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Steve Waugh & His Ruined Farewell

Steve Waugh had an ruined farewell to end an fantastic career

It is so hard to leave—until you leave

Farewells leave us with watery eyes especially when the legends of the particular business bid us adieu. In cricket, farewells always bring an atmosphere of sadness, tales of great achievements or despair of feats not touched. The experience that they collect from all their services is always unmatched with any huge property.

Steve Waugh is a name that hardly needs any introduction. The superiority of Australian cricket team is synonymous with this man. All the great success from mid 1990s to early 2000s are intertwined with Waugh.

At the time Steve reached the feat of 10000 and more runs in test cricket, he was only the third cricketer at that time to do so while Little Master Sunil Gavaskar and Allan Border were the only players to complete the achievement earlier.

A Legend was About to Say Goodbye:

10927 runs in 168 test matches with a batting average of 51.06, 32 test centuries and 50 half centuries certainly make him one of the greatest test cricketers of all time. And with a winning rate of 71.92% as a captain in test career, he is statistically the most successful test captain of all time.

His ODI career was also shimmering as under his glorious captaincy, Australia went on to win the 1999 world cup. But his ODI career was certainly good but not as illustrious as his test career.

So, in this blog I, Ritam Roy, will share the farewell match moods of the great Steve Waugh in my eyes.

Looking Back At the Series:

Steve Waugh had taken his farewell after the 2003- ‘04 Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India. Till date this series is memorable for some outstanding display of classic cricket. Before coming into the last match, I will like to make short trip to the previous matches and stellar performances of players from both the sides.

In the first test we saw an unforgettable innings of 144 runs from Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly. The match was drawn.

Hardy, any Indian fan could erase the memory of the second Adelaide test where Dravid’s epic knock of 233 in a solid partnership with VVS Laxman, 148, had dreamed of bright win in Australia. Despite Ponting’s mastery with the bat, 242Ajit Agarkar’s 6/41 and another 72 by “The Wall” had made the dream a reality.

In third test Sehwag made an aggressive 195.  Kumble picked up 6 wickets and Ponting did what he does; a double century (257) and Hayden stopped after scoring 136. And their innings offered Australia a comfortable win.

Let’s jump into the test of the utmost importance as far as this article is concerned. Till then the series was levelled with 1-1. This test was going to be the decisive test of the series. Steve Waugh was about to step for the last time in the field. So, of course Australian team wanted him to gift him a series win. Whereas the visitors were eyeing for winning the series against Australia in the Aussie soil. Had they won the series that could have been one of the greatest achievements of Indian cricket team. One thing was clear that the match was going to be both exciting and intense.

The Farewell Test:

Here arrived the 2nd day of 2004. Now during the previous test a delivery of Ajit Agarkar hit Steve in his hand and a lump formed on his forearm. As a result he retired hurt. Waugh thought that it was the last moment of him in the field as a player and he could not play the next match because of his injury. But that could not stop him from playing the last match. He was fit for giving the last move of his career

India won the toss and elected to bat first. A handsome 72 of Sehwag and a decent 45 by Akash Chopra gave India a good start. But who can forget Sachin’s ton of 241 runs? He was not in the form. So he resisted himself from playing shots offside. He avoided the balls outside off stump and never played a cover-drive in that long innings. Very Very Special Laxman played a superb innings scoring 178 runs. India declared on 705/7. In reply Langer, Hayden and Katich helped Aussies secure 474 runs. When Ponting fell prey to Anil Kumble, Steve stepped down to bat. The whole Sydney crowd gave him a warm welcome. Emotions were floating in the air. A statue of proper cricket player was at the verge of his career. He added 40 valuable runs to the scoreboard in that innings. But tell you what retirement is not about scoring runs; it’s just a bonus; it’s all about how you approach that day.

In the second innings Dravid and Tendulkar remained unbeaten for 91 and 60 respectively and India once again declared on 211/2. In the innings India declared; it was certainly an extremely positive sign for team India. Australia needed 443 runs to win the match and bag the series.

One Final Time For Steve Waugh:

Excitement as well as tension were rising up among the players and fans of both the teams. After 170 for 3 the much-awaited moment came. For the last time Captain, properly dressed in test outfit and equipped with his weapon – the MRF bat, came down the stairs amidst standing ovation, clapping and applause of the crowd. Almost 18 years back on a boxing day test match against the same opponent, this man had first marked his presence in international cricket. He could not do well in that series. But the rest is history. And 18 years later the gloomy day he was going to retire from cricket. His family was in the gallery witnessing the emotional moments. The whole atmosphere wore a look of sadness. Even the overcast sky was perhaps upset with the ensuing departure of the legend.

However, the first delivery came as Anil Kumble bowled.  Steve tried to drive it through the cover region. But it took the bottom edge making no difference to the scoreboard expect the expense of one more ball. A little later a more relaxed Steve hit the ball and it raced through the mid on region to announce a boundary. Waugh said that he was much relaxed in that match because he had nothing left to prove as it was his last match.

Funny Story about Young Parthiv Patel & Experienced Waugh:

Here I will tell a funny story. Young Indian keeper Parthiv Patil, in that match, asked Steve Waugh to play his signature slog sweep shot and miss it. “Come on, just one more of those famous slog-sweeps before you finish”. In reply Steve Waugh left 18-year-old Patil baffled. He said, “Show a bit of respect, you were in nappies when I played my first Test match.” Now this statement made Laxman, who was standing at short leg, smile. And it relaxed Steve in a way.

He played cuts, reached his 50th 50 in red ball cricket with an excellent sweep. His display of batting was class apart. He was playing for the team, as it would have been a great feat to win a test match where the opponent team had declared in both innings. He spent around 175-minutes on the 22-yard for his 158-ball 80 hitting 15-boundaries. And Anil Kumble was bowling round the wicket. Steve Waugh could not resist himself from playing the slog sweep and was caught by Tendulkar in the outfield.

Cricket Will Miss its Son:

Regarding this wicket Steve Waugh later said that he realized even after playing 168 test matches one could still do dumb things. However as he was going back to the pavilion, Indian players came to appreciate him. The crowd responded in a resounding exclamation of respect. Many people felt their eyes had gone wet. Australia ended up scoring 357/6. The match was drawn. And the series was drawn. No team could touch the achievements they wanted. But Cricket observed a fighter leaving the battlefield.

Australian cricketers held him on their shoulders and marched around SCG. Thus ended a glorious chapter of cricket. We really miss that sublime smile of Steve Waugh in the ground. We really miss his batting and his captaincy.

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