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   Tuesday, 24 December, 2002, 04:06 GMT
Waugh fights back over future
Steve Waugh's future is again subject to speculation
Waugh: The end of the road may be in sight
Australia captain Steve Waugh will not make a decision on his playing future until after the Ashes series finishes in January.

On Sunday, Australia's chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns would only say that the 37-year-old had their backing until the fifth Test against England in Sydney.

I'd like to think that the focus would be on the cricket rather than speculation about myself

Steve Waugh

Hohns' comments heightened speculation that Waugh, already dropped from Australia's one-day side, would end his international career at the end of the current Ashes series.

But ahead of the fourth Test against England, Waugh said he still believes he merits a place in the Australia team.

"I've never asked for a guarantee about my place nor did I want a guarantee," Waugh told a news conference at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday.

"I've always played my cricket under the belief that you pick your best 11 players and that's never changed. I think it's wrong to give players guarantees.

"If I'm not one of the 11 then that's fair enough ... I know I am one of the best 11 players."

Waugh's future could hinge on how he performs over the next two Tests having scored a timely half-century during the last Test in Perth, which sealed the Australians' eighth successive Ashes series triumph.

However, he averages only 27 with the bat since the end of the 2001 tour to England, compared to an overall Test average of 49.44.

Steve Waugh factfile
Tests: 154
9,840 runs, average 49.44, 28 100s, 45 50s, 89 wickets, 107 catches
Tests as captain: 43
Won 32, lost 6, draws 5

"It's up to me to go out there and score runs - I don't expect any favours if I'm not scoring runs," he conceded.

"People can't score runs for me, I have to do that. I don't want any sympathy or people feeling sorry for me because it's a tough sport."

Waugh's team-mates Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath have backed their captain to come out fighting.

Ponting took over the captaincy of the Australian one-day team from Waugh and he is favourite to succeed him as Test skipper as well.

It would be great to see him go out on his own terms

Glenn McGrath

But McGrath is expecting Waugh to use the games in Melbourne and Sydney to prove he still has what it takes as a player at Test level.

"This is probably the toughest fight of his career but the type of character he is, he'll probably rise to the occasion," McGrath commented.

Ponting admitted he would like a chance to skipper the Test team, but believes Waugh will keep the job until he is ready to give it up.

"Things are working out pretty well for me in the one-day arena, but Steve is Test captain now and probably will be for as long as he wants to be if he keeps playing well.

"But if that chance did come, it would be nice to do it," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 Australia captain Steve Waugh
"I've got to try and enjoy my cricket"

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