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‘I’m still among Australia’s best XI’

Melbourne: Test captain Steve Waugh believes he still deserves a place in the Australia team and will refuse to make any decision on his playing future until after the Ashes series finishes next month.

Australia’s chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said on Sunday the panel had spoken to Waugh about his international playing future and that the 37-year-old captain had their backing until the fifth Test against England in Sydney starting on January 2.

“I’ve never asked for a guarantee not did I want a guarantee,” Waugh told a news conference at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday.

“I’ve always played my cricket under the belief that you pick your best 11 players and that’s never changed. I think it’s wrong to give players guarantees.

“If I’m not one of the 11 then that’s fair enough ... I know I am one of the best 11 players.”

Waugh gradually grew tired during the news conference of constant questions on his playing future which eventually led Australian Cricket Board (ACB) media manager Brian Murgatroyd to interject: “Any questions about the Test match, guys'”

“The next two Test matches are about the Australian side playing an Ashes series,” Waugh said. “So I’d like to think that the focus would be on the cricket rather than speculation about myself.

“I’ll make a decision after the Sydney Test match.”

Waugh, who was dropped from the national one-day side in March, said he had found it difficult to read Australian newspapers in the past six weeks as some mounted a campaign for him and some were against him playing on next year.

“A lot of people writing stuff don’t know what’s going on,” Waugh said. “One lot of newspapers are for me, the other newspapers are against me, that’s just the way it is.”

Waugh is Australia’s most successful Test captain with 32 wins from 43 matches in charge, including big victories in the first three Tests of this Ashes series.

The former promising junior soccer player from western Sydney will equal Allan Border’s world record of 156 Test appearances when he plays in the fifth Test in Sydney.

Waugh believes his side will remain the best in world cricket even if South Africa are officially awarded top ranking by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The ICC released a statement on Tuesday explaining that South Africa could overtake top-ranked Australia on the ICC Test Championship Table if Shaun Pollock’s side win their upcoming two-Test home series against Pakistan.

South Africa would improve their series points average from 1.53 to 1.59 and overtake Australia (1.54) who have held the top ranking since the table was introduced last year.

“Everyone knows who the No. 1 side is so I don’t really see that as a big issue,” Waugh said. “If they happen to take the mace off us then congratulations to them but I think everyone knows who the number one side is.”

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