| STEVE: Decision now his own
Sydney: Australia’s cricket selectors say Steve Waugh is now virtually assured of leading the Test team on the tour of West Indies after his battling century in the fifth and final Ashes Test.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns stopped short of saying Waugh was guaranteed of staying on as captain but said the decision on his future was now up to him, ending any speculation he might be sacked.
“If he wishes to continue, it’s up to him,” Hohns told Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph. “We don’t have to sit down and pick the team to the West Indies until March. “There is plenty of time for him to consider everything.”
Waugh appeared to be under pressure to keep his place in the side after a modest run of form before silencing his critics with a brilliant century.
In a performance that could not have been scripted better, he made a brilliant 102 to resurrect Australia’s first innings and to also equal Don Bradman’s national record of 29 Test hundreds while becoming just the third man in history to reach 10,000 runs.
“It was an incredible innings,” Hohns said on Sunday. “But I’m not in a position to speculate on the future.
“It’s up to Steve to let us know what his plans are.” The ‘Ice Man’ of cricket played the innings of his life against the backdrop of mounting speculation about his immediate playing future.
Waugh has not said what his intentions are beyond the final Ashes Test but the general consensus is that he will be available to lead the Australian team to the Caribbean to play the West Indies in April-May.
The only possible factor that could convince Waugh to quit is that his hundred was so perfect in front of 41,931 home fans that nothing else he ever does in cricket could top it.
Waugh told a press conference on Friday after his exhilarating century: “I’ve always said that it’s desire, commitment and passion that count and age has nothing to do with how well you’re going to play.
“If you haven’t got that burning desire, that inner strength, then there’s no point in playing. Age is totally irrelevant, it’s what’s inside you and I don’t believe in age determining whether you should be in the side or not.”
Warne’s warm-up hopes
Meanwhile, Shane Warne expects to play his first match since his dislocating his shoulder later this month. The Australian leg-spinner said at the SCG on Sunday that he hopes to play at least one warm-up match before leaving for the World Cup.
Warne gave his injured shoulder an early test when he bowled seven practice overs at the SCG nets, then declared he was confident of playing again soon, probably in a club or state match.
“It all depends on how it progresses in the next week...but if it goes as well as last week, then I’ll definitely play a game before we go to the World Cup,” Warne said.