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Waugh's minder holding back fans

Steve Waugh's manager says he is fielding a barrage of calls as the captain's farewell tour reaches a crescendo with the Sydney Test.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2003 14:13 IST

Steve Waugh's manager says he is fielding a barrage of calls as the Australian cricket captain's farewell tour reaches a crescendo with the Sydney Test starting on Friday.

Waugh is playing in his 168th and final Test here and has been on a national lap of honour around the Test venues during the series against India, which is locked at one-all heading into the series decider.

"It's like trying to hold a tidal wave back," manager Robert Joske said on Wednesday.

"But we said from the outset we wanted to make this business as usual.

"Needless to say we are getting millions of media requests in the lead-up to Steve's final Test but I guess I'm running interference by trying to keep things normal.

"He needs to concentrate on what he has to do and that is win a Test."

As much as Joske hopes to create a comfort zone for 38-year-old Waugh, he's aware Waugh will be a long time retired and has already spoken of getting "maximum exposure" for his client.

There's been talk of a pilot for a television series on Channel Nine, cricket commentary, a book, a raft of speaking engagements and then there's Waugh's continued work with various charities.

At least until the end of the Sydney Test however, Joske insists everything other than cricket remains on hold.

"Certainly all the business interests have been told he's a cricket player until the end of next week - in fact until the end of the New South Wales (team) commitments.

"After that it will be helter skelter but right now I'm trying to maintain an even keel as far as that's concerned."

Joske said he's knocked back breakfast engagements, requests for Waugh to visit corporate boxes during the Test - which he described as "quite amusing" - and a throng of media outlets wanting exclusives.

Family and close friends will see the deciding fourth Test in a special Steve Waugh corporate box at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Waugh said after Tuesday's nine-wicket win over India in Melbourne: "I'm just going to try and enjoy it. I know it's going to be difficult at times with a lot on, but these things only happen once in your life and I want to make it a positive experience as I can."

Steve's twin and former Test batsman Mark said he expected to make it out to the match on the first and fourth days but meantime was keeping his distance.

"I don't expect to catch up with him beforehand," said Mark, who played 108 Tests alongside his brother.

Mark said the fact the Test series was still alive might be a good thing in keeping his brother focused but even he wasn't sure whether 'The Iceman' could stay cool under the intense public and media scrutiny.

"I'm sure Stephen will be trying to put into the back of his mind the fact that this is his last Test match," said Mark, who retired from Test cricket in somewhat less glorious circumstances in 2002 after being axed from the national squad.

"Whether he can do that - I don't know."

As for the future, Mark, who still plays state cricket, said he didn't expect a swansong season at NSW for the pair.

"To be honest I've got no idea what Stephen is going to do but I'd say this is likely to be the last season for both of us," he said.

First Published: Dec 31, 2003 11:06 IST