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   Tuesday, 31 December, 2002, 08:49 GMT
Clean sweep in sight


All summer I have been predicting that a big score was just around the corner for yours truly.

Thankfully, my optimism paid off at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, allowing me to live out a childhood dream.

Scoring a century in the Boxing Day Test has been an ambition of mine since the day I started watching this fixture as a young boy growing up in Perth.

Now that this aspiration has become a reality, I can confess that the feeling of such an achievement is as good as I could have imagined.

Justin Langer acknowledges the applause at the MCG
Sheer delight: Yours truly reaches 250

A capacity crowd, England as the opponent and a chance to bat on a very good pitch for a long period of time - it simply doesn't get any better than that for someone like me.

Batting with my opening partner Matty Hayden on day one was a huge buzz.

He is in exquisite form and his century was a testimony to the brutal mood he is in every time he walks to the crease.

His brilliance was followed up by an equally impressive 70 runs by our 'iceman' captain Steve Waugh.

Leading up to the Test, I can't remember a player being under so much media scrutiny than we witnessed last week for our magnificent captain.

The interest has been equal to that of a federal election here in Australia.

As only Stephen could though, he walked onto the MCG to an enormous ovation that seemed to click him into top gear from ball one of his innings.

He truly is one of the champions of the game who is mentally tougher than any player I have ever had the privilege of playing with.

Michael Vaughan batting in Melbourne
Vaughan has been magnificent for England

To play so freely, under pressure that would cripple many souls, was a credit to the man who has now won more matches as Australian Test captain than any other that has gone before him.

Our massive first innings total was followed up by an outstanding performance by all four of our bowlers.

But Michael Vaughan again showed that he is a very, very good batsman for England.

His second innings century was a stunning display of stroke making, which in my opinion eclipsed his second Test century in Adelaide.

It is no surprise that he has scored more runs than any other player in this calendar year.

Craig White and Robert Key also made solid contributions with the bat. Key particularly looks to be a very exciting prospect for the future.

For a few moments on day five, England and their throngs of loyal supporters must have thought they were about to witness a miracle victory.

Steve Harmison bowling against Australia
Harmison is one to watch in the future

Unfortunately for them a target of 100 was never going to be enough, although Stephen Harmison showed in his fiery early morning spell why he is another player of the future.

He is an ugly bowler to face as the bruises all over my body may prove. He has pace, bounce and an aggressive nature that give him all the credentials to be an outstanding fast bowler.

He, along with Key, are young men who I will be watching with interest in the future.

With only one Test of the series left, we have a chance to win the series 5-0.

This is not going to be easy as I get the feeling a number of my teammates are feeling physically and mentally worn out.

A clean sweep was our priority at the start of the summer, and now, after a hard fought fourth Test; the opportunity should be enough to spur us on to one huge effort in Sydney.

All the news ahead of the 2002/03 Ashes tour

Tour in review

Test series

Clickable guides

Background

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See also:

25 Dec 02 | The Ashes
25 Nov 02 | The Ashes
20 Nov 02 | The Ashes
12 Nov 02 | The Ashes
Links to more The Ashes stories are at the foot of the page.


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