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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 January, 2004, 13:26 GMT
'A week I will never forget'
Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Australian Test batsman

The only true way to describe the last week is to say that it was an incredible extravaganza.

From the moment we arrived in Sydney the atmosphere was electric.

At training, thousands of well-wishers turned out to watch us prepare for what was to be Steve Waugh's final Test match.

Every move made by the captain was applauded by proud supporters or captured by photographers looking to catch one last glimpse of their hero.

Matty Hayden and I allow Steve to soak up the acclaim
Matty Hayden and I allow Steve to soak up the acclaim

The Test in itself had taken on grand proportions because of our victory in Melbourne to level the series.

If there was not so much at stake then it would have been so easy to get caught up and then drown in the hysteria.

Instead there was nowhere to hide because we were in for a huge fight if we were to win back the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

Of course there were brief moments when nostalgia set in, but these were short because thoughts quickly turned back to the fight at hand.

As determined as we all were to send out our skipper in the best possible way, there was little we could do to halt the resolve of the outstanding Indian batsmen.

Like a bubbling volcano, the great Sachin was well overdue to erupt into action. His unbeaten double-century confirmed to any doubters that he is simply a master of the game.

Tendulkar's mastery, along with the similarly skilled VVS Laxman, meant that Stephen would spend the first seven sessions of his last Test match chasing leather.

At stumps on day two he looked at me with a sly grin and said he wouldn't miss these days in the field when his career came to an end.

With 700 on the board for India, victory would be highly unlikely for us.

Stephen reminded us all of one of his goals when he first took over as captain of the team. He felt we had an opportunity to prove that we could fight out for a draw if we needed to.

Playing alongside Steve has been a massive privilege for me
Playing alongside Steve has been a massive privilege for me

Although we batted well in our first innings, nearly any total when you are chasing over 700 seems insignificant.

On a wearing and spinning SCG pitch we would have to play tough to draw the match and the series.

As fate would have it, Stephen batted for about three hours on Tuesday to ensure this happened.

Although it would have been highly appropriate for the iceman to finish with a century and a victory, this was not the case.

After five intense days of Test cricket the final result was a rare draw for us. I cannot ever remember feeling as drained as I am right now.

This series has been as tough as I have played in. It feels like we have just completed an ultra marathon. I can only imagine how Stephen is feeling.

When the game was over and we had a second to reflect, one thing kept creeping back into my train of thought.

Like it or not we will never see the inspirational, highly revered and admired SR Waugh wearing the baggy green cap again.

What a career, what a week, a time I will never forget
Justin Langer

Never again will we see that perfectly straight bat or the steely concentration and resolve reflecting from deep inside the face of the skipper.

Never again will I sing the team song or sit in awe at the example of this great player and leader.

But then I reflect on the incredible privilege I have had of playing and sharing 68 Test matches with this special character.

Stephen will be missed in so many ways but the sun will come up tomorrow and the game stops for no-one. What a career, what a week; a time I will never forget.

From Sydney


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