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   Friday, 3 January, 2003, 11:31 GMT
Stellar duo shine together
Stewart watches Waugh from behind the stumps
Stewart was full of praise for Waugh's innings

Steve Waugh and Alec Stewart are batsmen with vastly different styles, but the two veterans have grown similar late in their careers.

Waugh is gritty, often eschewing the flashy shot in the name of safety and often considered the most prized wicket in the Test arena.

Stewart has always been at his best against the fiercest pace, cutting and pulling with eye-blink precision.

Most Test centuries
SM Gavaskar (Ind)
34 (125 Tests)
SR Tendulkar (Ind)
31 (105)
SR Waugh (Aus)
29 (156)
DG Bradman (Aus)
29 (52)
AR Border (Aus)
27 (156)
But if there is one similarity between two men who have starred for their countries for over a decade, it is the ability of both to score runs when it counts most.

The second day in Sydney was possibly the biggest occasion of all, with both facing calls for their retirement.

Waugh's record-equalling 156th Test appearance has been billed for much of this year as one that could be his last.

Australia's selectors tend to give a whisper that the push is imminent so that captains always retire at the top.

However, where predecessors Allan Border and Mark Taylor have retired and then cried foul, Waugh let his bat do the talking.

Not only did he equal Sir Donald Bradman's Australian record of 29 Test centuries with a driven four off the final ball of the day, but he also saved Australia from a rare collapse.

Waugh celebrates his 10,000th Test run
Waugh celebrates his 10,000th Test run
The home side, for the first time in this series, were in trouble at 56 for three when their skipper strode to the crease to a standing ovation from his home crowd.

If he has until recently been unused to fighting for his Test career, he is well accustomed to digging his side out of even the deepest of holes.

But Waugh claimed that he found himself in a mental zone that he had only discovered on half-a-dozen occasions in his career.

"I don't know how it worked out, but it couldn't have worked out better," he said.

"I had 87 with two overs left and felt I had a chance.

"I wasn't sure if I could make it but it worked out perfectly."

Stewart, who watched Waugh's innings with admiration from behind the stumps, said the script could have been written for his old adversary.

"People have been trying to write him off, as they have been other people," he said pointedly.

Leading English run-makers
GA Gooch
8900 at 42.58 (118 Tests)
DI Gower
8231 at 44.25 (117)
AJ Stewart
8149 at 39.95 (126)
G Boycott
8114 at 47.72 (108)
MA Atherton
7728 at 37.69 (115)
"But again he showed his ability and I'm sure when he wants to call it a day he will do on his own terms."

Stewart's own performance in becoming England's third-highest Test run-scorer was over-shadowed by Waugh's heroics.

The 39-year-old overtook Geoff Boycott in the English run-scoring ranks, taking his career total to 8,149, behind only Graham Gooch and David Gower.

But the England wicket-keeper is used to silencing his critics in the most demonstrable way possible.

The vultures were circling over Stewart's career last June, after a poor start to the summer.

Many had James Foster pencilled in behind the stumps for the series against India, but Stewart responded with his 15th Test century against Sri Lanka at Old Trafford.

Alec Stewart
Stewart still pulls with abandon
"I haven't played in 120-odd Tests because of my name; it's because I've got ability and talent," said Stewart after stumps in Sydney.

"When you play this much you are going to break records but it's great company to be in.

"When I retire I would like to think that my name will be mentioned alongside those people."

Waugh appears to have done enough to convince the selectors that he should tour the West Indies in April, and he has certainly done enough to impress his fellow veteran.

"If they pick the team on ability and talent," said Stewart, "then Steve Waugh will go as captain."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 Record-breaking Australian captain Steve Waugh
"Today was pretty close to as good as I can play"
 BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
"One of the most remarkable dramas in modern sport"
 Veteran England keeper Alec Stewart
"The bloke's a fantastic cricketer"
All the reports from the Test match

Day five

Day four

Day three

Day two

Day one

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See also:

15 Jun 02 | England
31 Dec 02 | The Ashes
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