The Challenge of Australia


The Web


Home > Cricket > The Challenge of Australia > Reuters > Report

Waugh begins his farewell series

Julian Linden | December 03, 2003 21:47 IST

It's the beginning of the end for Steve Waugh when he leads Australia into battle with India in the first of their four Tests starting on Thursday.

The series was already looming as an intriguing contest between the undisputed world leaders and an Indian side full of unfulfilled promise before Waugh's retirement plans added a real sense of nostalgia to the occasion.

The Australia captain, a man who rarely shows any emotion, has been genuinely touched by the national outpouring of support for him but insists he won't let sentiment get in the way.

"There's been a lot of talk about myself but the important message is that cricket is bigger than any individual and while it's my last series, there are other more important issues at stake," Waugh said.

Waugh's uncompromising approach has set the scene for an intriguing four-game series that has the potential to change cricket's world order.

Australia have dominated Test cricket for the past decade but their time at the top could be under siege as the backbone of one the sport's greatest ever teams starts to break up.

Waugh's twin brother Mark retired a year ago and there is no Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath or Brett Lee available for the first Test.


Australia haven't lost a series at home in over a decade and are strong favourites to win again although India present some unique challenges.

India's record away from home is terrible. They have won just six of their last 67 matches on foreign soil, although that record is improving under Saurav Ganguly, and have only won three Tests in Australia.

Yet India are the only team to beat the Australians in the past five seasons, producing one of the great comebacks of all time to win 2-1 at home when they lost the first Test and were made to follow-on in the second.

"Every team has their weaknesses and India is the only side that's beaten them over the last five or six years," Indian captain Saurav Ganguly said.

"They know in the back of their minds that we can throw them up a challenge. Every team is vulnerable."

Both captains agree the first Test, at the Gabba in Brisbane, will have a big bearing on the result of the series.

The wicket has a distinctive green tinge which is sure to help Australia's fast bowlers and nullify the impact of India's two spinners Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble, at least one of whom is sure to be omitted from the starting eleven.

Waugh hinted on Wednesday that Australia would take leg spinner Stuart MacGill into the match but he planned to pepper India's star batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Ganguly, with short-pitched bowling.

"There's going to be some short stuff," Waugh said. "You've got to expect that at Test match cricket as our batsmen expect it from their bowlers. It's all part of it."


Unsurprisingly, Waugh said his bowlers were targeting Tendulkar, arguably the best batsman in the world.

"I think there's a lot of pressure on him on this tour. He's the man all the other batsmen look to score runs and they feed off him so if we can put him under pressure he can make mistakes," Waugh said.

Ganguly responded: "This is a great challenge for us and if we do well here it will help us go forward.

"It's a big challenge to our abilities and we want to see how good we are. Obviously Sachin is a key player in this side but he's not the only player in the side. We have to play as a team."


Australia - Steve Waugh (captain), Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Simon Katich, Adam Gilchrist, Andy Bichel, Jason Gillespie, Stuart MacGill, Brad Williams, Nathan Bracken (12th man to be named).

India (possible 12): Saurav Ganguly (captain), Akash Chopra, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Parthiv Patel, Ajit Agarkar, Anil Kumble, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh.

Article Tools
Email this article
Print this article
Write us a letter

Related Stories

India ready to counter Australia

Aussie coach aims for whitewash

Aussies too good for India

People Who Read This Also Read

Sachin seeks that missing sign

Aussie coach aims for whitewash

'Take the game to the Aussies'

© Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

The Challenge of Australia: The Complete Coverage

Copyright © 2003 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.