New Delhi:Australian opener Matthew Hayden announced his retirement from all representative cricket on Tuesday after a 17-year first-class career and 103 Test matches.
The 37-year-old Hayden was dropped last week from Australia's Twenty20 and limited-overs squads, but selectors said they would consider the country's most successful opening batsman for upcoming Test tours to South Africa and the Ashes series in England.
An often emotional Hayden, who is sixth on the all-time list of Test century makers with 30 hundreds, put an end to any further selection speculation when he announced his retirement at a news conference at his home ground, The Gabba.
He averaged just over 19 runs - his career average tops 50 per innings - during Australia's 2-1 series loss to South Africa this month. It was Australia's first home series loss in 16 years.
"I have loved playing cricket so much, and I count it as so much of an honour to have represented my country," Hayden read from a prepared statement.
"I know that now is the time to move on. I've lived the dream of every kid who has ever picked up a bat and ball and wanted to wear the baggy green (Australian Test cap)."
Hayden, a burly and aggressive left-hander renowned for getting on top of bowling attacks early in his innings, said he had many things he wanted to focus on in life after cricket.
"I am retiring from cricket, not from life, there is still so much that I want to achieve and contribute to the community," Hayden said, adding that time with his family, cooking, fishing and spending time outdoors were among the passions he wanted to pursue.
Hayden's 39 at the Sydney Cricket Ground last week against South Africa was his highest score in his last five Tests.
Since returning from an Achilles injury which ruled him out of the West Indies tour in May, Hayden has scored 383 runs at an average of 23.93 in his last nine Tests compared with his overall record of 8,625 runs at 50.73.
He went 17 innings without a century, his longest stretch in a career that started slowly with only seven Tests from his debut in 1993-94 in South Africa until it took off in 2000, when he cemented his combination with Justin Langer at the top of the order.
During the last year, selectors persevered with Hayden because of his experience for a team in transition following the retirements of Shane Warne, McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Langer and Damien Martyn in the last two seasons.
He briefly held the world record for the highest Test score - his 380 against Zimbabwe at Perth in 2003 - until ex-West Indies skipper Brian Lara reclaimed the mark with 400.
Hayden's wife Kellie gave a strong indication the Jan. 3-7 Sydney Test would be her husband's last when she stood and emotionally applauded him off the ground at the SCG.
Hayden played 161 limited-overs internationals for Australia, scoring 6,133 at an average of 43.80 and playing in two World Cup-winning squads. He was the International Cricket Council's ODI player of the year in 2007 and the Australian ODI player of the year in 2008.
In limited-overs internationals, he hit 10 centuries and 36 half centuries with a top score of 181 not out.
Retired fast bowler Glenn McGrath, Hayden's former teammate, said the Queensland veteran had nothing left to prove.
"It's been an absolute honor and a privilege to play with him and even more so to call him a mate," said McGrath, who holds the Test record for most Test wickets by a paceman. "And to me Matty is a legend of the game; he's got nothing left to prove.
"His career stands alone. He's an amazing person and an amazing player, I was just very lucky to be a part of it."
Hayden has actively helped the McGrath Foundation in its campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer, the disease which claimed the life of McGrath's wife Jane last year.
Hayden also said he wanted to help promote cricket among the Australian indigenous community and to continue his work with the McGrath Foundation.
"I have no intentions of turning my back on our great game, a game which has given me great joy, rather I would like to focus on some key areas," he said.
Cricket Australia said Hayden would farewell fans during the innings break at Tuesday's Twenty20 international match against South Africa at the Gabba.
"Matthew was an integral part of the most successful era in Australian cricket history," Cricket Australia chairman Jack Clarke said.
New South Welshmen Phil Jaques, who has played 11 Tests but is recovering from a back injury, and 20-year-old rookie Phillip Hughes are the likely replacements for Hayden in the Test side for next month's return tour of South Africa.