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  Sunday, 1 December, 2002, 09:43 GMT
Waugh's path to greatness
Steve Waugh and Allan Border
Waugh equalled Border's 32 Test wins as skipper

Captain Steve Waugh has passed another milestone in his glittering career after Australia beat England in the third Test.

Not only did victory put another Ashes series in the bag, but it also saw Waugh join Allan Border as Australia's most successful Test skipper.

Waugh has now led Australia to 32 Test wins since replacing Mark Taylor in 1999.

  Waugh as captain
Tests: 43
Won 32, lost 6, drawn 5
Career runs: 9,840
Career average: 49.44
Runs as captain: 2,574
Average as captain: 46.8

It has been an amazing ride for Waugh, and in his time at the helm Australia have established themselves as the undisputed masters of their trade.

"When you first take over the captaincy you're keen to please everyone else and you forget about what you really want," Waugh said.

"I've learnt a lot and I'm pretty relaxed about it now. There was a period when we had to really work hard to form a side to what it is now but now it's almost on automatic pilot."

A run of 16 straight Test wins mark Waugh's team as all-time greats, while comparisons with the indomitable Windies side of the 1970s and Don Bradman's Invincibles have been common.
Steve Waugh against Werst Indies in 1999
Waugh retained the Frank Worrell trophy in his first series as captain

Keith Miller, a member of Bradman's 1948 team, recently declared the present Australia unit as the finest in history.

Clive Lloyd, the great Caribbean captain, heads the all-time list with 36 victories as skipper.

But what sets Waugh apart is the alarming speed with which he has achieved his feats.

Incredibly, his 32 wins have come from just 43 matches while Border needed 93 matches for his record. Even Lloyd needed 74 games.

Waugh's winning strike rate of 73 stands head and shoulders above any captain in charge for at least 20 matches, with only Bradman's success rate of 62 coming close.

On bare statistics, Waugh must rate as the best Test captain the world has seen.

  Border as captain
Tests: 93
Won 32, lost 22, drawn 39
Career runs: 11,174
Career average: 50.56
Runs as captain: 6,623
Average as captain: 50.95

But how does he compare to Border, the man he is poised to muscle out of the record books?

Midway through the home series against West Indies in 1984, a teary-eyed Kim Hughes handed Border what is best described as a ramshackle team.

They were not devoid of quality, but harmony and confidence were low in a very strong era for international cricket.

The ultra-competitive, hard-working Border was to make his mark, but in a time of rebuiding things had to get worse before they got better.

Border would endure successive Ashes defeats and did not taste a series victory until December 1987 against New Zealand - a full 29 Tests after taking the reins.
Allan Border
Border's Australia won back the Ashes in 1989

Mixed results followed, but the Border regime clicked into top gear when Australia toured England in 1989 and returned with the Ashes.

The Queenslander stayed at the helm until 1994, passing over to Taylor a team in much better shape than he found it.

Taylor's time in charge was brief by comparison, but he stayed true to Border's ideals and in March 1999 delivered to Waugh a mighty group of cricketers.

With players like himself and his brother Mark, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, Waugh embarked on a wonderful journey that is not over yet.

Nobody is suggesting Waugh is a lesser captain, but the legacy of Border surely lives on in the present Australia team.

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