A grand farewell

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Tuesday, January 6, 2004, 18:25 [IST]
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The last day of the Sydney Test was made all the more memorable by Steve Waugh who played a grand knock to save the team the blushes of a series loss to India. Waugh's knock had grit and gumption written all over it. It was a typical Waugh knock, the one he is used to and where his steely resolve came to the fore. He has time and again rescued his side from precarious situations. Today it was no different.

However, since it was the last day of his international career, pressure was naturally on him, the sort even Don Bradman couldn't overcome. But Waugh held his nerve and never gave in to emotions. Together with rookie Simon Katich who too had a very good outing in the middle, Waugh kept the Men in Blue at bay, thus denying them a series win which was very much on the cards when the day's proceedings started.

Prior to the start of his farewell Test itself Waugh had expressed his desire to sign off his Test career on a high note, unlike the ODIs where he had to bow out ignominiously after failing to reach the finals of WSC series at home two years ago. This time Waugh was adamant on history not repeating itself and he succeeded in his attempt admirably.

Throughout his international career spanning over almost two decades, Waugh has been a picture of guts, gumption and glory. He had great pride in wearing the baggy green cap that symbolises Australian teamspirit and resilience. Pressure has always brought the best out of him and he is one of those guys who relish the challenge of playing with tailenders.

He preferred to end his illustrious career on the same ground on which he made his debut almost two decades ago. It was a fitting finale as he brought down curtains on his international career with a tenacious 80 that saved the Australians the embarrassment of a series defeat at home, where they have been invincible for almost a decade.

As he began his long walk back to the pavilion for the last time after being caught by Sachin Tendulkar off Anil Kumble, many members of the Indian team rushed to the great man to express their appreciation for him. Not to forget the standing ovation of the sporting SCG crowd. A hundred would have been an icing on the cake, but Waugh is not the one to be bothered about personal milestones. For him, team comes first as he proved by taking his side to a position of safety and then going for the shots.

His family members, twin brother and former international Mark Waugh as well as the Prime Minister of Australia had graced the stadium to salute the warrior who had given everything for his team's cause.

Eventhough Waugh ruled the roost on his farewell, Indians do deserve a lot of credit for putting up a brave fight. They came from nowhere to almost clinching the series. One man stood between them and victory. That was Stephen Rodger Waugh without whom Australia as well as the game of cricket will no longer be the same hereafter.

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