Waugh remains shining example as exit looms

By Myles Hodgson
Thursday 02 January 2003 01:00

Steve Waugh will continue with the pragmatic and professional approach which has helped him to a record–equalling 156 Tests rather than become involved in the emotional hysteria surrounding the possibility of his farewell Test at his home ground of the Sydney Cricket Ground.

From the very start of the Ashes series, when brother Mark retired from international cricket after being overlooked for the opening Test, speculation has mounted about how much longer Steve can continue to play at the highest level at the age of 37.

Overlooked for this winter's World Cup in South Africa, Waugh's inclusion in the Australian squad to tour the West Indies has remained in doubt throughout the series.

Even an impressive display of 77 in the first innings at Melbourne was undermined by a shaky second innings while he was suffering with migraine.

He has been offered no promises for the future by the Australian selectors beyond this week's final Ashes Test in Sydney, where he will equal Allan Border's world record of 156 Test appearances and where he could also become only the third player in history to pass 10,000 Test runs if he scores 69 over the next five days.

But sentimentality has never been part of Waugh's make–up and, despite an opportunity to possibly say an emotional farewell to Test cricket on his home ground, he will prepare in exactly the same manner as any other match.

"There's been a little bit too much talk about this," he insisted.

"If people put themselves in my position and how it feels with the amount of opinion and coverage I'm getting then I think they would feel uncomfortable as well.

"It's part of sport, but it's easy to get carried away about one person rather than the team and the game, and it's disappointing with the way we are playing that there is a lot of focus on other issues.

"You have to try and go out there and appreciate that you are playing for Australia and it's a great honour, and no matter how many times I play I still go out thinking it's fantastic to be playing for Australia. That's what I'm going out with in this Test match – I'm not going to be sad thinking this could be the last time I go out there."

Waugh admits he has thought about his future although he has restricted those he has consulted about it to his immediate future and has not even discussed it with brother Mark.

"There have been times I've thought about it as you do when you get to a certain age, but I'm still not 100% sure what the right decision is," he added.

"It's something I have to work out for myself – I can talk to hundreds of people about it but in the end it has to come down to my decision."

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