Fourth Ashes Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Third Day. Australia 6/551 declared (1st innings), England 270 (1st innings) and at stumps today 2/111.
Finally I got to see Steve Waugh bowl. He's done so in other matches this year, but I'd always missed it. So I was beginning to think it was too late and that I never would. But today there he was, in the session before tea, limbering up with a few stretches, touching his toes on the field of the MCG.Just seeing him bowl (at last!)--and in a Test match too--was enough, my eyes were glued on him (via the TV). So, when, during his second over, he (and Gilchrist) appealed for an LBW against Foster, it took me completely by surprise. As the umpire's finger slowly rose to signal the Out I could hardly believe I was lucky enough to witness Waugh actually take a wicket.The ball hit Foster on the front pad, Waugh spun around to the umpire and appealed, and it was about three seconds before the umpire's finger at last gave the signal. Other bowlers are wildly demonstrative when they succeed, but not living legend Waugh, captain of Australia--not anymore, anyway. It wasn't until his jubilant team-mates ran towards him and thumped him on the back and shoulders in congratulation, and ruffled his hair, that he began to smile. In fact he looked almost overcome by their evident affection. It was his first Test wicket for four years. Yay Tugga! This year there's been an immense amount of public speculation about his Test cricket future. It's been gathering momentum over the last couple of months, and been brought to a head by the events of the last week. Now that Waugh's 37 years old his impending departure from international cricket is inevitable, but the question is when and how it'll happen. There's pressure on him to retire voluntarily rather than be dumped by the selectors--to make a graceful "fairy-tale" departure at the Fifth Test in Sydney after seventeen years of Test cricket. The newspapers carry something about it almost everyday, and NSW--if not the entire country--is deeply divided on the subject. Waugh has commented that to him it's begun to feel as if it's happening to someone else, like a novel unfolding. The intense public interest in his future, the charged atmosphere surrounding his every appearance and action, the 65,000-odd spectators at the MCG giving him a rousing standing ovation two days ago as he walked out to bat (all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain)--despite cricket commentators trying to remind the public that the Fourth Test isn't just about Waugh, you know--it's all very difficult to explain to anyone who's not here right now. You've got to be here to feel it.