Sydney: Steve Waugh said his unforgettable century in the final Ashes Test against England on Friday could be the defining moment of his brilliant career.
With Australia in deep trouble and his own career at the crossroads, the skipper silenced his critics, bringing his team back from the depths with a typically battling display and smashing the final ball of the day for four to reach 102. That put him on 29 Test centuries, equalling the record of Don Bradman and topped off a day when he had already passed the 10,000 Test runs mark.
“I don’t think it gets any better than that, scoring a hundred off the last ball in front of your home crowd and playing the way I did today,” Waugh said. “I think it was one of those occasions which they talk about as being in the zone. I’ve always aimed to play the perfect innings. You never know when it’s going to happen or whether it will ever happen but it’s something I’ve always strived for.
“Today was pretty close to as good as I can play and if I can continue that tomorrow then maybe it is the most defining moment of my career.”
Waugh is now upsides the late, great Bradman as a Test century-maker and among the first to pay tribute to him was Bradman’s son John. “My dad watched Steve’s career with great admiration and I know he would want me to congratulate him on this wonderful achievement,” he said in a statement. “I like that situation, I must admit, when it’s a real challenge,” Steve said. “We were 50 for three chasing 370 on a wicket that’s deteriorating so for me that’s what gets me going, so it was probably the perfect situation for me to come in today.”
Adam Gilchrist took a single off the penultimate ball to set the scene for Waugh who whipped the capacity crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground into a frenzy when he stroked the last delivery through extra cover for four.
“The adrenaline was almost overwhelming and overpowering but I felt I had to get the hundred tonight,” Waugh said. “I think it would have been a disappointment for the crowd and for myself and I mightn’t have slept that easy tonight if I didn’t get it. “I felt it was my day and it was just meant to happen,” he said. “Sometimes you just know when it’s going to be your day. It’s hard to explain, it happens occasionally, but I felt I always had a chance.”
“For me it felt very much like my first Test hundred at Headingley, just the way I saw the ball and hit the gaps,” he said. “I feel like I’m playing now like I was when I was 19 years old, just going out there playing my shots and having fun. You just wish you had more of those days than the bad days, it was almost a perfect day.”