How Ashes epic hijacked eyeball surgery

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Among the elated millions erstwhile Steve Waugh notched his celebrated last-ball ton astatine the Sydney Cricket Ground successful January 2003 was a antheral who, portion getting acceptable for country successful his infirmary bed, got truthful excited that an eyeball popped retired of his noggin.

He was 1 of the galore who had spurred Waugh connected arsenic helium fought to prevention his Test vocation implicit the people of astir 14 months, battling distant successful the look of relentless unit from selectors, the media, past players and himself.

In the last Test earlier Australia's location 2002-03 Ashes campaign, Waugh had led his broadside to a sixth bid whitewash nether his captaincy, against Pakistan successful Sharjah successful October. Australia's inspirational person past skippered his squad to Ashes glory wrong conscionable 11 days, with the 3rd triumph giving him his 32nd triumph arsenic Test captain, equalling Allan Border's Australian record.

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Steve Waugh made a dogged period astatine the SCG successful January 2003 to prevention his Test career. (Penny Bradfield)

But connected the eve of the 5th Test of the Ashes series, arsenic Waugh sweated his mode done a nett league astatine the SCG, helium knew that a thin tally with the bat could lone beryllium shielded by the team's dominance for truthful long.

Waugh was 37 and, arsenic helium charged down the steps of the Members Pavilion to look England's onslaught connected the 2nd time of the SCG match, he'd scored conscionable 1 ton from his past 23 Test innings. In that period, helium had made 645 Test runs astatine 29.31, including innings of seven, 12, 34, 53, 77 and 14 during the Ashes. If his sound of 77 successful the archetypal innings of the Boxing Day Test had bought him immoderate much clip successful the baggy green, what he'd gained had dissipated successful an innings of 14 successful Australia's 2nd dig, successful which helium was tormented by England quicks Steve Harmison and Andy Caddick.

Australia's enactment panel, chaired by Trevor Hohns, had hinted astatine phasing Waugh retired of the nationalist set-up erstwhile it axed him arsenic skipper of the one-day broadside successful favour of Ricky Ponting, successful February 2002.

Steve Waugh was warring desperately to support his spot successful the Test broadside arsenic Australia began their 2002-03 Ashes campaign. (Steve Christo)

The sheet gave different perilous glimpse into its views connected an ageing and struggling Waugh when, a time aft Australia won the 3rd Test of the Ashes to seal the series, it didn't prime him successful a 30-man squad for the 2003 World Cup.

"The determination is wholly Stephen's astatine this stage," Hohns said of Waugh's status prospects up of the Boxing Day Test, his past 3 words intensifying the firestorm.

At a media league held nether the Bradman Stand astatine the SCG up of the last Test, 1 writer asked Waugh a heavy loaded question.

"What's been the astir defining infinitesimal successful your career?" the newsman asked, suggesting the SCG Test would beryllium Waugh's last.

"Well, possibly it volition hap successful this game," Waugh quipped successful a superb reply.

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Adding to the consciousness of finality was not lone that the SCG was Waugh's location venue, but that his 156th Test would gully him level with Border's satellite record. The tenacious right-hander was besides conscionable 1 period distant from joining Sir Donald Bradman connected 29 Test tons, the Australian grounds astatine the time.

But arsenic Waugh hurtled onto a sun-bathed SCG teeming with 41,931 onlookers, the ground's biggest second-day attendance since 1975, helium had nary involvement successful packing distant his baggy greenish for a last clip aft that match.

The timepiece atop the Members Pavilion work 3.26pm erstwhile Waugh strode crossed the hallowed turf to statesman his innings. Just implicit 3 hours later, arsenic the timepiece work 6.46, millions of radical successful Australia and abroad, including the antheral acceptable to acquisition oculus surgery, were gripped by Waugh arsenic helium got acceptable for the last shot of the day, sitting connected 98.

Steve Waugh scored his period successful beforehand of a 41,931-strong SCG assemblage and millions of others astir Australia and abroad. (Phil Walter)

Over the three-and-a-bit hours until that point, 'Tugga' had survived a barrage of vicious short-pitched deliveries from Harmison and Caddick, peeled disconnected 17 fours and go conscionable the 3rd cricketer successful past to scope 10,000 Test runs, joining Border and Indian fable Sunil Gavaskar. Damien Martyn and Martin Love had batted with him and departed, and Adam Gilchrist present watched connected from the different extremity of the pitch.

Waugh had 1 ball, against the disconnected rotation of England's Richard Dawson, to find 2 runs earlier stumps.

Dawson skipped in, sent a quicker-than-usual transportation fizzing down the wicket and pitched it fractionally wide.

And, successful a infinitesimal truthful synonymous with the iconic Moore Park venue that is the SCG, Waugh shuffled astatine the crease and threw his hands astatine the ball, sending the Kookaburra zipping done other screen for four.

Ecstatic drunks sent pubs into delirium, galore listening connected car vigor blasted their horns and the oversea of thousands astatine the SCG fto retired a roar that made Sydney's railway web tremble, arsenic Stephen Rodger Waugh celebrated a career-saving century.

Adam Gilchrist was the antheral astatine the other extremity erstwhile Steve Waugh brought up triple figures connected a magical time successful January 2003. (Phil Walter)

Waugh has been told hundreds of stories of what radical were doing erstwhile helium reached triple figures successful that unthinkable moment.

The communicative of an eyeball popping retired of a man's caput is told successful a caller publication called If These Walls Could Talk: A Celebration of the Sydney Cricket Ground, authored by Sydney Morning Herald main sports writer Andrew Webster.

"One feline who was successful hospital, hooked up to each this equipment, was astir to person an operation," Waugh recalls successful the book.

"He got truthful excited erstwhile I got the 100 that helium jumped up successful the air, ripped the connections retired … and detached a retina. He was successful determination for an cognition and wasn't expected to determination astir but helium forgot astir it and got caught up successful the moment. He had to person different operation."

'If These Walls Could Talk: A Celebration of the Sydney Cricket Gound' is simply a caller publication authored by Sydney Morning Herald main sports writer Andrew Webster. (Supplied)

Waugh was dismissed successful the archetypal implicit of the adjacent day's play and England won the Test by 225 runs but, arsenic Webster puts it successful his book, those are "minor details".

Webster relived successful an interrogation with Wide World of Sports the palpable involvement successful Waugh's SCG innings.

"The full state was locked in," Webster recalls.

"That was 1 of the events I was fortunate to beryllium astatine and you knew you were watching thing special. I retrieve being determination that time – and it benignant of crept up connected everybody. Everyone knew what was connected the line; everyone knew helium was batting for his career. All of a sudden, you go, 'Jesus Christ, he's going to bash this here'.

"The Nine News got delayed, which was a rarity successful those days.

"And Steve Waugh not lone got his ton but saved his vocation and broke a stack of records on the way.

"That infinitesimal was the genesis of this full book."

Steve Waugh scored his 29th Test ton astatine the SCG successful January 2003, drafting level with Sir Donald Bradman's past Australian record. (Phil Walter)

Waugh had agelong been renowned for his singular grit, possibly champion typified by his duplicate centuries astatine Old Trafford that changed the people of the 1997 Ashes dramatically.

Many doubted if helium inactive had the quality to nutrient an against-all-odds ton erstwhile helium took defender connected centre stump astatine the SCG successful January 2003 – but helium would again emergence to the challenge.

"I emotion sportspeople similar that," Webster says.

"Lleyton Hewitt utilized to beryllium the aforesaid … I ever find it intriguing. Lleyton Hewitt – he'd driblet the archetypal 2 sets and it was astir similar it would occurrence him up to triumph the adjacent three.

"And 'Tugga' was ever the same. He was ever truthful dependable.

"But things had started to slip. Even by his ain admission, things had started to gaffe with his form. His deficiency of runs was telling. He'd mislaid the one-day captaincy and his presumption successful the squad altogether. That was telling. So, helium was connected his mode out.

"But that was the cleanable concern for Steve Waugh to marque a hundred.

"He loved a fight."

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