Australia hit the highs and lows | india | Hindustan Times
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Australia hit the highs and lows

If the cricketing zenith of 2003 had an Australian quality, then so did its nadir. Leg spinner Shane Warne hit a new low in his roller-coaster career when he failed a drugs test.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2003 19:07 IST
PTI

If the cricketing zenith of 2003 had an Australian quality, then so did its nadir.

Leg spinner Shane Warne hit a new low in his roller-coaster career when he failed a drugs test, blamed his mother's slimming pills and missed out on the World Cup adventure in South Africa at the start of the year.

Fortunately, he was not missed by his team mates.

Warne-less, they barely broke sweat in retaining their title, crushing India by 125 runs in the Johannesburg final courtesy of a spectacular 140 not out from Ricky Ponting.

Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, with four centuries between them earlier in the tournament, both failed miserably when it mattered most, Tendulkar lasting just five balls.

The Australian victory on March 23 formed part of an unprecedented 21-match one-day winning sequence. Warne, banned for 12 months, has barely been discussed since.

The year ended with another Australian's name on everyone's lips.

Steve Waugh, barred from the World Cup by the selectors rather than the drug testers, cornered the headlines by announcing his imminent retirement.

He will leave at the end of the test series against India as the most capped player in history, the second most productive batsman of all time and a captain without equal.

Unlike Warne, he has squeezed every single available drop out of his store of natural talent. Unlike Warne, he will depart a perfect role model, with the only mild blot an addiction to questioning the parentage of opposing batsmen.

Matthew Hayden never retires voluntarily.

He made October another Australian month by scoring a world-record 380 against Zimbabwe at Perth, including 66 in sixes and 152 in fours. Only one other current player has a better test average than Hayden - team mate Adam Gilchrist with 59.09 to his 57.95.

Waugh said the innings contained the "cleanest ball-striking" he had ever seen.