The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Of attitude, excellence and a glittering career

Sydney: It’s typical of Steve Waugh that he never lets his emotions betray him. At the same time as he is preparing to equal one of cricket’s greatest records while contemplating the agonising decision of retirement, his only thoughts are of winning.

While the 37-year-old will achieve a personal milestone when he matches Allan Border’s world record of 156 appearances in the final Ashes Test amid speculation over his future, the Australian captain remains preoccupied with his team’s chances of victory.

That stubborn, single-minded approach to the game has been the one constant factor in a glittering career that has scaled great heights since his Test debut against India in December 1985. Already one of the greats of the game, Waugh’s achievement in equalling Border’s record is testimony to his great survival instincts as well as his determination and skill.

He needs 69 more runs to join Border and Sunil Gavaskar as the only players to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket and needs one more century to equal Don Bradman’s Australian record of 29 Test hundreds.

Waugh is also one of cricket’s greatest captains, if not the best of all, having led Australia 45 times for 34 victories, a strike-rate unrivalled through the ages. Statistics, however, only tell half the story, a point Waugh is quick to acknowledge when reluctantly talking about his place in history.

“I think the more Tests you play, the more records you come close to,” he said on Wednesday.

“As a kid growing up I always wanted to try and be the best batsman I could be and hopefully the best batsman in the world. I think I achieved that in certain points throughout my career so I’m pleased with that, but you never consider yourself to be anywhere near the same as Sir Donald Bradman.”

Raised in Sydney’s working-class western suburbs, Waugh made his Test debut as a 20-year-old but didn’t score his first Test hundred until his 27th match. Asked about the secret to his longevity, Waugh replied: “Probably not to get too down during the tough times or too carried away in the good times.

“Hopefully my attitude has rubbed off on the other players,” he added.

He could have ensured himself one of the greatest farewells by deciding to make his final appearance at home in Sydney but unsurprisingly spurned that chance, saying he wanted to make the decision alone, without hype or fanfare.

“I’m still not 100 per cent sure what the right decision is and I’ll have a think about it after this game. It’s something I’ve got to work out. I can talk to a hundred different people and get many different opinions, but in the end it’s got to be my decision. You never know when your next one’s going to be or whether this one is going to be your last one.” (Reuters)

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