Waugh urges players not to hesitate on retirement
Steve Waugh has sent out a message to the ageing members of the current Australian side to retire when they feel it's best for each of them, rather than getting caught in unnecessary media publicity.
"It's a high-profile sport. As a player, you can make the decision and let everyone know and then get on with it," Waugh told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Just go ahead and do it, if that's your plan."
Waugh's comments follow Justin Langer's, who hinted that he may retire after the Ashes series early next year. Langer cautioned other players of announcing their decision too early, as it would be a huge distraction and that it was up to each individual to decide how much attention they wished to attract.
Waugh was speaking out of personal experience. He went public with his retirement plans before the 2003-04 home series against India. Waugh also pointed out that such a situation could put a lot of pressure on the new captain.
"It's different when you're a captain compared to being a player," Waugh said. "As captain, you get all the talk about who is going to be the next guy in charge.
"We were able to deal with that. Ricky [Ponting] was given the job almost straight away so that was taken care of. People had been talking about whether I was going to stop playing for so long and I wanted to put an end to it.
"With these guys, if a few of them are leaving, there won't be just one bloke caught up in it. Ideally, you probably want to leave the game without all the fuss. That would be perfect, but it can't work that way."
The Australian side has quite a few players in their mid to late 30s, including Matthew Hayden, Langer, Shane Warne, Damien Martyn and Stuart MacGill. With next year's Test tour of Zimbabwe in doubt, Australia's next Test series after the Ashes probably won't be until 2007-08.
"Most of us have already been on our last overseas Test tour together," MacGill said. "I'm not saying it's impossible to be playing the next Test series but, realistically, that's a long way away. I wouldn't count on myself being a definite starter and you'll find a lot of players my age are in the same boat."
MacGill added that the Australian public ought to know if they were seeing the greats of the game for the last time. "It's not just Australia versus England next summer and it's not just Australia trying to get back the Ashes," he said. "It's the last time most Australian crowds are going to see a lot of these players."