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Ind-Aus series can match the Ashes: Waugh

Ashish Shukla | January 01, 2004 19:11 IST

Outgoing Australian Test captain Steve Waugh believes the contest between India and Australia has the intensity to be as big as the Ashes in years to come.

The two teams played one of the greatest Test series in cricketing history in 2001 which hosts India won 2-1 and the ongoing four-match series -- which is locked 1-1 at the moment -- is poised to be a cliff-hanger with the final Test starting at Sydney on Friday.

"The last two series between us have been phenomenal. People have been glued to television watching those series. India would be a strong force in world cricket for a long time to come and Australia have a great structure," Waugh told reporters at Sydney on the eve of his farewell Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

"So there is no reason why India and Australia can't get something special in future together. Hopefully, it will be as famous as the Ashes one."

Waugh's remarks drew inspiration from Australia's nine-wicket win in the third Test at Melbourne on Tuesday which helped the hosts level the series after the loss at Adelaide.

"It was one of our best Test match wins. To win by nine wickets when they (India) were 280 for one on the first day was a great win. There have been great wins but not like the MCG game. We have taken a lot out of the match," Waugh said.

Though Waugh would be playing his final Test, the Australian captain said he would not be bogged down by the occasion.

"I am pretty relaxed. I will swim, get the massage done, just the normal stuff I have been doing for the last 10 years. I am not trying to change too much now.

"In the morning, we would have a word among each other, probably for 10 seconds, just go out there and enjoy, be positive. The crowd is going to be on our side, there will be lot of good word, so let's use it to our advantage and enjoy the occasion. It is not often you have such massive support.

"You are never sure how the match would pan out. You hope it would go your way. The thing about sport is you can't predict. We can only work hard."

Waugh, who will finally pull the curtains on his 18-year long career after the Test at his home ground, said he could not have asked for a better place to play his last game.

"I don't feel it's a sad occasion. I feel I am lucky to have played a lot for Australia. There are a lot of good players who didn't play a Test and I have played 168 so I can't be sad about it.

"There will be special feeling walking out at the SCG. I think it has the best atmosphere than any ground in the world, it's very intimate. Players enjoy playing here. Personally, I can't find a better place to play my last Test."

Waugh hailed his successor Ricky Ponting as a "natural leader" and predicted the Tasmanian to go down in history as Australia's highest run-gatherer.

"He will be a natural leader, he's got respect of the players, more importantly he wants the job and he's ready for it, that's a significant factor for a captain.

"He could be there for 10 years but I think it would be a big ask. As a captain, five years is a long time. Border did it for 10, I did for five, five years is the maximum for a captain. It does take its toll and mentally it can be wearing. It takes a huge out of you if you captain for long."

Waugh felt the present lot of cricketers are a lot more fortunate than players from the past though there is more pressure and the fun element is missing.

"Players are very professional these days. It comes with more money but also with a loss of privacy. There are probably a few more questions asked," he said.

"The guys playing now are more fortunate than previous years, there are pluses and minuses. Right now it is more professional, more people involved, more support staff and players are playing longer," Waugh said.

"I feel better than five years ago. There is better preparation and more knowledge. There is also more pressure and the fun element is no longer there because you are under scrutiny."

Waugh said the best way to play this game was to enjoy other's success and have compassion for those who are not successful.

"You enjoy people's success around you. That's crucial for any player in a team sport. You are going to have a lots of ups and downs -- you enjoy the people around you, the success you are having and also the compassion if not successful.

"Lot of very great teams are positive while some others don't make it because they play as an individual and not as a team," he added.


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