Waugh twins separated for good
Separated at birth by less than four minutes, cricket's most famous twins, Steve and Mark Waugh, have been pulled apart again, this time forever.
One of the most enthralling and successful partnerships in world sport ended on Monday when Mark announced his retirement from international cricket after he was dropped from Australia's Test team.
His decision marks the end of an era in Australian cricket and the end of a pairing that was unique in the sport.
Steve, the elder and stronger of the two, survived to fight another day but his time is also running out and he knows things will be different without his twin by his side.
The Waughs, born in Sydney on June 2 1965, both rank among the greatest players of all time.
Steve, an uncompromising player with a streetfighter's approach to the game, is the second most-capped player of all time with 151 appearances, while Mark is fifth with 128.
Steve's total of 9,734 test runs is the third highest in history, while Mark, a gifted batsmen with a more carefree approach, ranks 11th with 8,029 runs.
Mark holds the world record for the most Test catches and is Australia's all-time leading runscorer in one-day internationals. Steve is Australia's most capped player with 325 games.
Steve has scored 28 Test centuries, Mark 20, but their individual statistics are only part of the story.
The brothers were raised in Sydney's working-class western suburbs and it is what they have done together that makes compelling reading.
Australia's leading bookmaking firm, CentreBet, said that the odds on twins playing 100 tests together were so remote that any prospective punter could pick their own price.
Only 41 sets of brothers have played at least one test match together and, of those, only the Waughs were twins.
Their 108 tests together are far and away the most by two brothers, almost double the next best of 59 by the Zimbabwean siblings Andy and Grant Flower.
Even more astonishing is the manner in which the pair's careers unfolded. Steve made his test debut against India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1985-86 but Mark had to wait another six years for his call-up.
Mark finally made his debut against England at the Adelaide Oval in 1990-91, marking the occasion with a majestic 138, but it was a bittersweet moment as he had been promoted to the national side at the expense of his brother.
Steve missed the next four matches but was recalled to the team for the third test in the West Indies two months later.
They have made nine test partnerships of 100 or more, including a 197-run stand in the fifth Ashes test against England last year when both hit centuries.
Their highest test partnership was their 231-run fourth-wicket stand to clinch Australia's first win in the West Indies in 22 years in the deciding fourth test at Kingston in May 1995, when Steve made 200 and Mark 126 to set up an innings victory.
Their best first-class partnership was an unbeaten 464 for New South Wales against Western Australia 11 years ago -- the highest partnership ever in the long history of the Sheffield Shield.
But not everything has been smooth sailing.
Despite being twins, who by folklore are supposed to have a telepathic understanding, their early internationals together were marked by a series of infamous run outs, including one which left Steve stranded on 99.
Only time will tell how long he will last now without his greatest partner.
Mail Cricket Editor
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