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Thatscricket - News - Tear-strained end to Waugh brothers' career

Published: Sunday, March 7, 2004, 23:59 [IST]
 
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Sydney:The illustrious cricketing careers of Australian Test and One-day greats Steve and Mark Waugh officially came to a tear-stained end in Sydney as their home state of New South Wales failed in its bid to make the final of the domestic cricket competition.

Tears flowed throughout the crowd as the twin brothers left their beloved Sydney Cricket Ground for the last time on Sunday, marking the end of careers spanning over 20 years.

At the end of the day, the brothers, considered amongst the finest batsmen of the modern era, ended with almost identical batting averages with Steve on 51.95 and Mark on 52.04 after an impressive knock of 72.

The twins, born four minutes apart, had played a combined 724 matches over 20 years.

They appeared destined to leave the game earlier than they did courtesy of a wash-out when play was halted on the final day of their match against Queensland after only seven balls.

With torrential rain forecast for the remainder of the day, the tiny crowd prepared to pack up and go home mid-morning.

So convinced were officials that play would be abandoned that the Waughs were honoured with a goodbye presentation ceremony on the balcony of the New South Wales dressing room in front of 300 hardy supporters.

Mark and Steve reflected on their careers, said it was a sad day, spoke about the next chapters in their lives and agreed it was the right to time to retire as their 39th birthdays approached in June.

They were even given three cheers like Sir Donald Bradman in his last Test, at The Oval in 1948.

But two hours later, the rain cleared and they were back on the field.

Queensland could still make the final of the Sheffield Shield if it won outright, while New South Wales by that stage had no chance.

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

In the end Queensland sneaked into the final against Victoria, which starts next Friday, with a 37-run win.

Steve Waugh 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 then began belting sixes and fours en-route to a cracking 72 from 49 balls to ensure he finished ahead of his slightly 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.

"It's a miniscule amount (of difference), pretty appropriate because we're players of similar abilities," said Steve.

Earlier, when asked about their post-cricket plans, Steve said mentoring rather than coaching was an option.

Mark joked he hoped to earn a lot of money from very little work.

"Cricket's the only thing I'm good at," he said.

Extras
Rain may bring hasty end to Waughs' careers
afp.com

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