Australia's Waugh twins draw curtain on careers

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The Independent Online

The first–class cricket careers of twin brothers Steve and Mark Waugh came to end yesterday at the Sydney Cricket Ground, their home ground for almost two decades.

Born four minutes apart, the Waughs finished up with first–class batting averages that were almost identical, 51.95 to 52.04, an incredible statistic given they've played a combined 724 matches over almost 20 years.

Steve retired from international cricket in January when he stood down as Australian test captain. Mark retired from international cricket when he wasn't selected for the Ashes series of 2002–2003. Both continued to play for New South Wales state in Australia's domestic competition.

The Waughs appeared destined to leave the game courtesy of a washout when play was halted on the final day of the Pura Cup game against Queensland after only seven balls.

The Blues had declared on their overnight score of 196–4 in the vain hope of getting an outright result and making the Cup final, one last Waugh–inspired miracle. But the twins were allowed only four minutes on their home ground before the rains came and forced them off.

Officials were so convinced then that play would be abandoned that the Waughs were honored with a goodbye presentation ceremony on the balcony of the New South Wales dressing room in front of 300 supporters.

Queensland could still make the Cup final if it won outright; New South Wales had no chance.

In a thrilling finish, Queensland bowled the New South Welshmen out in the penultimate over to win by 37 runs and sneak ahead of Tasmania into a Cup final against Victoria.

After Steve brought himself on to bowl and also gave Mark an over of his old style medium–pacers, the Bulls set New South Wales a victory target of 277 runs from 55 overs. Steve made nine.

If Mark made 20, they would finish with the same first–class averages, right down to one–hundredth of a run. He was on 16 at the start of a James Hopes over but hit 4–6–6–4 en route to a cracking 72 from 49 balls that ensured he finished ahead of his older brother.

Mark's 368 games left him with 26,855 runs at 52.04 compared to Steve's 24,052 runs at an average of 51.95 from 356 appearances.

Steve Waugh retired from test cricket as the most successful skipper of all time and the most capped player.

He scored 10,927 runs in 168 tests at an average of 51.06 and played 325 limited–overs internationals, scoring 7,569 runs at 32.9.

In international cricket, Mark Waugh accumulated 8,029 runs at 41.84 in 128 tests and 8,500 runs at 39.35 in 244 one–dayers.