Waugh looking forward to getting away from scrutiny
Published: Sunday, March 16, 2003, 22:47 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
NSW crowned Sheffield Shield champion
Brisbane: Steve Waugh said on Sunday he will be relieved to swap the scrutiny of an Australian cricket summer next month for the relative calm of facing the West Indies' pace attack in the Caribbean. Such has been the constant pressure on the Australian Test skipper this (southern) season that he admits the chance to play away from home helped his decision, announced on Saturday, to continue his record Test career. Waugh is expected to be named captain of a 15-man Australian squad on Monday for a four-Test tour of the West Indies, where he has scored more runs than any other Australian batsman. His 870 runs have come at an average of 66.92, putting Waugh among a group of Australian batsmen who have performed better overseas. Waugh averages 54.85 runs away from home compared to 45.07 in Australia, alongside the likes of Allan Border (56.67 to 45.94), Don Bradman (102.85 to and Bill Ponsford (62.40 to 40.90). Waugh will break Border's world record of 156 Test appearances when the series begins in Guyana on April 10. "I've always done well on away tours and that's one of the reasons so that was also a factor in the decision," Waugh said. "The media is not quite as intense and you can get away and relax a bit and have time to yourself. The last 12 months have been difficult. It's probably the first time in a long time I've struggled to make runs and playing away from home, there's a lot less pressure on you as a player. "When you get constantly asked (about retirement) and stories constantly written and people constantly talk about it... it does become a bit tiresome and it does wear you down." Waugh's selection is expected because the 37-year-old's form has been excellent this year. He scored three centuries for New South Wales, leading it to the Sheffield Shield title against Queensland at the Gabba on Sunday, after his memorable century against England in the final Ashes Test in Sydney in early January. Waugh said he would reassess his Test-playing future after the Caribbean tour. He said another tilt at an elusive series win in India next year was too far off to consider. "It's too far down the track for any player to think about," Waugh said. "I don't want anyone giving me any favours. I always want to fight for my spot."