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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 17:16 GMT
Where does Waugh rank?
By Scott Heinrich

Don Bradman
No one has done more for Aussie sport than Sir Donald Bradman

Steve Waugh has announced he will be retiring from international cricket at the end of the forthcoming Test series against India.

He has amassed more than 10,000 runs in his Test career, scoring 32 centuries and boasting an average in excess of 50.

His importance to Australian cricket is immense, but where does he rank among his sporting countrymen?

Here, we give our top 10 Australian internationally renowned sportsmen and women.

1. Sir Don Bradman - Cricket

Bradman is the embodiment of Australian sport, a gargantuan figure whose influence goes way beyond cricket.

When he died in 2001, he left behind him a legacy of achievement that all can aspire to but none will emulate.

Finished with a career batting average of 99.94, his failure to score the four runs needed in his final innings for a century average only adding to his legend.

Inspired Australians during the Great Depression.

2. Rod Laver - Tennis

In an era dominated by Australians, Laver was the best of them all.

The Queenslander annexed the Grand Slam - all four major tournaments - in 1962 and 1969, winning 11 majors in all.

Won four Wimbledon titles and reached the final at the All England Club on each of the six occasions he entered the tournament - a feat equalled only by Sweden's Bjorn Borg.

With Roy Emerson, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall and Fred Stolle playing at roughly the same time, it took some doing to stand out. But Laver did just that.

3. Dawn Fraser - Swimming

Dawn Fraser
Few have achieved in the pool what Fraser did in her amazing career

Born in 1937 in Balmain, Sydney, Fraser took up swimming at an early age to assist her breathing, which was affected by asthma.

It was a good move, as later in life she would become the only athlete to ever win the same event in three successive Olympic Games.

She won the 100m freestyle at the 1956 Melbourne Games before repeating the feat in Rome four years later and then in Tokyo in 1964, just weeks after the death of her mother.

She won two golds at the 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games and, four years later in Perth, became the first woman to swim 100m in less than a minute.

Banned for 10 years in 1964 for an out-of-pool prank she said she did not commit, but her larrikin image only endeared her to the Aussie public.

4. Herb Elliott - Athletics

Elliott's career spanned barely more than three years, but his influence on athletics in Australia could not have been greater.

He went undefeated over distances of 1500m or a mile in a 40-race career, winning gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics in world record time by 20m.

In 1958, Elliott broke the four-minute barrier for the mile as a teenager en route to Cardiff for the Commonwealth Games, where he lifted the 880-yard and mile titles.

He then smashed world records in Dublin and Gothenburg before returning home exhausted.

On the brink of an early retirement, Elliott was persuaded to travel to Italy with the rest of the team - and the rest is history.

5. Steve Waugh - Cricket

Nobody typifies the gritty, never-say-die nature of Australian sport more than Steve Waugh.

Waugh did it the hard way, struggling in his first five years as a Test cricketer before developing into the face of his country's global domination in the 1990s and beyond.

Single-minded determination saw him become the most capped player in history - and he sits just 514 runs behind compatriot Allan Border on the all-time list of run-scorers. His captaincy records, meanwhile, may never be broken.

Not the most talented batsman in his own family let alone country, but that just makes his plethora of achievements all the more meaningful.

Steadfastly avoided scandal throughout a long career and looked up to by children and adults alike.

6. Peter Thomson - Golf

Peter Thomson (left) receives the claret jug in 1965
Thomson's five Open Championship titles rank him among the best golfers ever

In the 1950s, the Open Championship belonged to one golfer - Peter Thomson.

In the seven years between 1952-58, Melbourne-born Thomson never finished outside the first two, winning four times.

His 1956 victory at Hoylake saw him become the first golfer since Bob Ferguson in 1880-82 to win three successive Championships.

But it was his fifth and final triumph in 1965 - seven years after his fourth - that gave Thomson his greatest satisfaction, as the tournament contained all the top American players.

Did more to put Australian golf on the map than anybody before or after.

7. Evonne Goolagong Cawley - Tennis

Goolagong Cawley enjoyed a magnificent career on the tennis court, winning seven Grand Slam events in 18 final appearances.

But her impact reached farther than most. Her deeds as an aboriginal woman in the 1970s did wonders to promote sport in areas of little or no growth.

Won four Australian Open titles on the bounce from 1974-77 and memorably won a second Wimbledon crown in 1980 nine years after her first.

8. David Campese - Rugby Union

Campese is regarded by many as the greatest player of his generation.

The winger's breathtaking runs highlighted Australia's first World Cup win in 1991 - and he went on to gather more than 100 caps.

A stereotypical Australian sportsman in many ways, 'Campo' played the game hard and was never afraid to speak his mind during or after his playing days.

9. Cathy Freeman - Athletics

Cathy Freeman
The defining moment of Freeman's career came at the 2000 Sydney Olympics

Like Goolagong Cawley two decades earlier, Freeman emphasised the wealth of sporting talent that exists in Australia's aboriginal community.

The first of her race to win an Olympic gold, Freeman dazzled a record audience of 112,524 by speeding around the track in the Sydney games to take the 400m.

It was the culmination of four years of intense planning and hard work after finishing second in Atlanta four years prior.

The pressure of being arguably Australia's highest profile sportsperson took its toll, however, and she retired in July this year - but she did so with her place in Australian sporting history assured.

10. Wally Lewis - Rugby League

Lewis's status as a league icon in Australia is unchallenged, even if the adulation is more prevalent in his native Queensland than New South Wales.

State of Origin was Lewis's domain - and over a 12-year period, from 1979-91, he tormented the NSW Blues with his hard tackling, powerful running and long passing.

He missed just two games for the Maroons in 11 seasons and won eight man-of-the-match awards.

Lewis played 33 Tests for Australia and became synonymous with the immensely successful Brisbane Broncos.

Author's note: No Australian Rules (AFL) players are featured as the list was restricted to sportspeople who figured on the international stage.

Otherwise, names like Ted Whitten, Ron Barassi, Roy Cazaly and Peter Hudson would have been in contention.

Links to more Aus v Ind stories


Puffbox - Steve Waugh farewell
31 Dec 03  |  Steve Waugh farewell

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