'The wickets over here certainly suit my style'

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The Independent Online

Steve Waugh was a satisfied man after he had broken England's attack with a trademark steely Test century at Edgbaston yesterday.

"I am pleased with the execution [of his shots] and hit most of the gaps," the 36-year-old Australian captain said. "I've felt relaxed at the crease recently and tried to take that attitude into the Test and enjoy the experience. The first 20 or 30 runs were as good as I've hit for a long while.

"It's always great playing against England in a Test, the wickets over here certainly suit my style of play. You get a little bit more time and I tend to play off the back foot.

"England had their tails up and it was an important time of the game, so it was important for us to get a partnership going. They expected to take a couple of early wickets and the situation wasn't easy."

Playing in his 216th innings, he flicked medium paceman Craig White to reach his eighth century in the Ashes series off just 164 balls in his 38th Test against England.

Waugh, who also passed the 9,000-run milestone, refused to rule out reaching 10,000 Test runs and added that at the moment he was enjoying playing. "I am not sure for how much longer, but it is not out of the question," he said.

It was his sixth century in England to add to his hundreds in 1989, 1993 and 1997. It made him the third highest run-getter in Ashes history with 2,675 runs, behind Don Bradman (5,028 in 37 Tests with 19 hundreds) and Alan Border (3,548 in 47 with eight).

Waugh said the Test was still in the balance and it would be hard to bat last. "Anything over 120 will be very hard and will put England under a lot of pressure. I think the game is still there to be won by both sides. At this stage we've got our nose in front, but there is a fair way to go.

"It's a good pitch in a way because it gives everyone an opportunity, the batsmen never feel really set, but once you play your shots you get good value. While the occasional ball looks ugly, it's a very good test for all the players.

"We've been in this position in the last two Test matches and it didn't work out for us. Hopefully, we've learned some lessons from our time in India. We're certainly not going to get carried away."

The England coach Duncan Fletcher said: "It was a very good start to get Michael Slater [bowled by Darren Gough for 77]. It would have been crucial for us to get another wicket, but the two Waugh brothers batted really well, and Steve showed what a class act he is.

"He plays an important role ­ he averages 50 in Tests, other bowlers have struggled to get him out as well. It shows that if you get in there and you've got the mental strength you can make runs.

"Our bowlers have got to stick to the discipline and stick to the game plan. Australia bat all the way down, that's why they are No 1 in the world, well-balanced, experienced, enthusiastic.

"Strange things happen in cricket. You never know what might happen."

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