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Steve Waugh a cricketer of his time

Steve Waugh, who played his final Test innings on Tuesday, was the most influential cricketer of his generation.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2004 16:35 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Steve Waugh, who played his final Test innings here on Tuesday, was the most influential cricketer of his generation.

The 'Ice Man', leaves the game with a number of towering achievements. The second-highest Test run scorer, the second-greatest century-maker and the most successful captain.

The 38-year-old Australian went out on his own terms having announced beforehand that the four-match home series with India would be his last.

The last month he has been a back-slapping tour of Australia's major cricket venues where he has been showered with standing ovations since announcing that his 168th Test on his home-town pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground would be his last.

It wasn't always likely that he would go before he was pushed as he struggled through a rough form patch last summer before producing one of his pinnacle innings -- an emotional 102 against England in the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney last January.

A cricket-loving nation's wish for a fairytale victory for their Test captain was denied by India once they had amassed a record first innings 705 for seven.

In the end Waugh went out with a signature fighting innings of 80 to help Australia salvage a draw. He received three cheers from the appreciative crowd, who chanted his name after the victory ceremony.

Waugh, with the Australian flag draped around his shoulders, later was chaired around the SCG by his teammates to receive the thanks of a grateful Australian cricket public.

Waugh, one of cricket's indomitable competitors, typified so much that was good about cricket -- never-say-die determination, courage under fire and a fierce loyalty to his country and his teammates.

So much a cricket traditionalist, Waugh was prepared to take a physical pounding from fast bowlers while proudly wearing his baggy green cap.

He accumulated 10,927 runs, just 247 behind compatriot Allan Border's world record (11,174).

He scored 32 Test centuries, second only to Indian batting great Sunil Gavaskar's 34.

He finished with a Test batting average of 51.06 from a record 168 Tests and captured 92 wickets and 112 catches.

Among Waugh's greatest innings were his 200 against West Indies at Sabina Park in 1995; his twin centuries against England at Old Trafford in 1997; his daring 120 against South Africa in a must-win match at the 1999 World Cup and the unforgettable 102 in Sydney this year with a boundary from the day's last ball.

The flinty Waugh, who played much of his glorious Test career with his twin brother Mark, took over the captaincy from Mark Taylor in 1999.

Waugh led his country 57 times for 41 wins, nine defeats and seven draws.

He was the most successful skipper in Test history with a winning ratio of more than 71.92 percent, surpassing West Indian Clive Lloyd's 36 wins in 74 Tests in Australia's innings win over Bangladesh in Darwin last July.

Waugh wiped the immortal Don Bradman's name from the record books when he scored a century against the West Indies in Bridgetown, Barbados, last May to overtake the Don's 29 hundreds for Australia.

Waugh played most of his best innings under pressure, showing nerveless determination in the heat of battle.

Under the hard-nosed Waugh, the Australian cricket team attained new heights of success, including an unbeaten run of 16 matches from October 1999 to March 2001, when they fell to India in a famous Test at Calcutta.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland paid tribute to Waugh, saying he will be remembered as one of Australia's greatest cricketers.

"Steve has been an ornament to the game and Australian cricket is certainly better for the outstanding contribution he has made to it for more than 18 years," Sutherland said.

"His courage, leadership and ability to perform at a high level under extreme pressure will ensure that he will be remembered as one of Australia's greatest cricketers."

Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar added: "He's had a tremendous career - he's set great examples on and off the field for all of us to follow."

First Published: Jan 06, 2004 16:35 IST