Fifth Ashes Test, Sydney Cricket Ground, Third Day. Australia 1st innings 363 (Waugh 102, Gilchrist 133), England at stumps today 2/218.I'm still exhausted, and today didn't make it any better. What happened in the last 40 minutes of so of yesterday's play was totally gripping--an adrenalin charge, and finally so full of emotion and exhilaration. Yesterday was just too soon to write about it. Before play began today, ABC radio replayed their broadcast of yesterday's last over. This was the one in which Steve Waugh hit the last ball for 4, thus getting his hundred and equaling Don Bradman's record of 29 Test centuries. Waugh had come in to bat when Australia's third wicket fell for 56. By the start of the day's last over Australia were 5/229, but its position in the Test match had long left the minds of the spectators; what mattered now was the extremely dramatic possibility of Waugh reaching his century before stumps. The crowd of 41,931 was in a noisy frenzy of anticipation, chants of "Steve Waugh! Steve Waugh!" swept the SCG, and the radio commentators--the BBC's Jonathan Agnew and the ABC's Kerry O'Keeffe--were barely in control of themselves as the events unfolded. As Agnew said today, it was the sort of scenario a commentator dreams of: Waugh with 95 and on strike, and only 6 balls left in the day with which to reach his century. Waugh blocked the first three deliveries without scoring. Off the fourth ball he scored 3. This brought him to 98 but also gave Gilchrist, his batting partner, the strike. The clamour of the spectators was deafening. Would Gilly be able to take a single off the fifth ball and give Waugh the strike for the last one? Would Waugh then be able to reach his century off it? Gilchrist did indeed get the single--thus prompting the loudest cheer one single run has probably ever gained. This meant that Waugh was on strike for the last ball of the day. It was probably only by strength of will that the commentators Agnew and O'Keeffe didn't fall into a raving fit from the excitement. As Nasser Hussain walked the bowler Richard Dawson back up his run-up, he was smiling ruefully--or was it sheepishly? No reason to doubt that the England captain knew very well the enormity of the situation. For the last few months Waugh's form and run-scoring capacity have been under the most searching public examination, and last week the selectors had given him notice that his time was almost up. Some of his friends in the media had been urging him to retire. But--the SCG is Waugh's home ground, he's Sydney's favourite son, the people's hero: a 17-year Test veteran, a battler who goes out and digs his team out of trouble, the captain of the Australian team that had just retained the Ashes and which had won the 1999 World Cup--and perhaps the most respected and popular cricketer in the country. And right then he's on 98 not out.As Hussain took minutes to set a run-restricting field the crowds booed him, and in the ABC broadcasting box Jonathan Agnew, almost imploringly, said, "But he [Waugh] could come back tomorrow..." "Stuff the silver, we've come for the gold!!" Kerry O'Keeffe cried in reply. "Poms would come back tomorrow; Aussies want it now! We're instant people! Come on Stephen!!!" And then Dawson bowled to Waugh.Almost immediately, the crowd erupted. That's the only word for the loudest sound that's ever been heard at the SCG. Waugh had hit the ball through the off-side--the crowd saw it was going all the way for 4, in mid-run Waugh himself realized it, leapt with elation and pirouetted with bat in air, threw both arms up, and drank in the absolutely electrifying 41,000-strong standing ovation for his hundred.It wouldn't have been surprising if strong men had burst into tears--and according to today's Sydney Morning Herald, at least one spectator did. It was Waugh's triumph, his success off the last ball of the day, his equalling Bradman's record--and above all, one in the eye of the selectors who, it seemed, had been waiting to consign him to the dustbin. The thunderous cheering continued even after he'd left the field for the pavilion to the applause of the England team. Some of the crowd stayed at the ground late into the night to relive the moment. Nearby pubs were filled with drinkers chanting "Steve Waugh! Steve Waugh!" and brandishing their SCG tickets for the day--they'd been there and they'd seen it; groups wandered the city singing out Waugh's name. And we were completely drained by one of the most exciting times of our lives: 6.45 p.m., 3 January 2003.Early this morning I went out for the papers. Waugh's century was a banner headline on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald. "Invincible" said the front page of the Daily Telegraph. "Perfect Ton, Perfect Day", "One Man Stood Alone When All Seemed Lost", "The Shot that Made History", "Moment Created Just for a Legend". "Waugh's Ton of Courage" headed a side column of The Australian's front page, and its sports section featured a large photograph of Waugh leaving the field triumphant, bat raised, his hair spiky with sweat: "The Conqueror". Today people told each other where they were or what they'd been doing when that shot went for 4. It was a totally emotional and satisfying moment, one that those who privileged to witness it--whether at the SCG itself, or on TV or by radio across the country and around the world--will probably remember for the rest of our lives. As Jonathan Agnew so rightly said, "You could not have scripted anything more remarkable than what we have seen here this afternoon."