Sat, Nov 29, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Newspapers mourn Waugh's final declaration

AP , SYDNEY

Sydney's Daily Telegraph summed it up in a front-page headline printed alongside a full-page photo of the world's most successful captain in his beloved baggy green cap: "Steve Waugh Declares."

The day after teammates and adversaries past and present eulogized the 38-year-old batsman and inspirational leader of Australia's all-conquering cricket team, it was the turn of the nation's media.

The Telegraph on Thursday lauded Waugh for announcing his retirement at the end of the upcoming four-test series against India while he was still playing great cricket.

"Cricket fans will understand and accept that," the paper said. "They will wish Steve Waugh and his family every success and future happiness, comforted by the knowledge they lived through a time when a cricketing immortal stood at the crease."

On the front page of national daily The Australian, cricket writer Mike Coward called Waugh "the most formidable and influential cricket player in the world during his tenure over the past four years as Australia's 40th captain."

Among others sorry to see Waugh go are his friends at the charitable home for children of leprosy patients that Waugh supports on the outskirts of India's eastern city of Calcutta.

"Well, it's both a sad and a happy news. Sad because we will miss his cricket, happy because it is his decision to say goodbye to the game on a high note," Santosh Das, a volunteer at the Udayan charitable home, said on Wednesday.

When Das told the children their "Uncle Steve" was retiring, they fired off a letter urging him to reconsider "because they felt there was still a lot of cricket left in him," Das said.

Waugh and his wife Lynette visited Udayan in July when they donated medical items worth 50,000 Australian dollars (US$35,000) to the home's 250 boys and 60 girls. Most of the children in the home are between five and 19 years of age and were born in leper colonies, and about five percent of the children also have leprosy.

Waugh, who was named Australian of the Year in New South Wales state on Thursday, makes regular financial contributions each year to the home.

Yesterday Ricky Ponting was named Waugh's successor as test captain, taking over when Waugh retires in January.

Australian coach John Buchanan said Waugh had left a lasting legacy, both on and off the field with his steely will to win that left him with a record of an incredible 40 wins, eight defeats and only five draws in his 53 matches as captain.

"He's left a significant imprint not only on Australian cricket, I guess world cricket and even Australian society," he said. "He is going to be, I think, revered as one of the great leaders of Australian cricket and Australian sport."

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor said he was pleased Waugh will go out on his own terms.

"There are tough moments as a player," he said. "I think Steve Waugh is one of those players who's had very few of those though.

Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar said Waugh's mental toughness set him above his international cricket peers.

"I think he set great examples in the way cricket should be played and in tough conditions he would produce some tremendous performance," Tendulkar said.

"Anyone would want to play like him -- he was completely at a different level as far as mental toughness is concerned."

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