Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney January 2, 2007

Buchanan wants match focus

Glenn McGrath had the best day of the three Australian players marking their final Test © Getty Images
Australia have discussed Steve Waugh's series-long goodbye in 2004 as a way of helping the team cope with the final match of three of their longest-serving players. Waugh announced his retirement plans at the start of the drawn contest with India and the games were reduced to virtual sideshows on the way to his final lap at the SCG.

Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer are stepping down on Saturday and John Buchanan, the coach who is also in his last Test, said the players were aware of not letting their feelings dominate the occasion and prevent them from securing a rare 5-0 Ashes whitewash. "We certainly wouldn't want to walk away from a Test not playing well due to us being overcome by emotion," Buchanan said. "I think we will be emotional come the end of the Test, but it's about using it the right way during the game."

Waugh, who was at the ground today, did not score a century in his final home summer and his decision to publicise the retirement date had the unwanted effect of reducing the team to second place in the eyes of the supporters. "It certainly gave us some experience about a retirement and how that can impact on individual or team performances, so we have taken something from that," Buchanan said of Waugh's last Tests. The three players stepping aside this time waited for the series to be sealed before revealing their plans.

Langer was the most emotional of the retirees today and he spilled a reasonably comfortable catch off Andrew Strauss at third slip in the morning session. "It took him a little bit of time to get in the game," Buchanan said. Warne was also unable to make a mark through 19 overs while McGrath picked up the crucial wickets of Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen to finish with 2 for 57.

"Glenn bowled exceptionally throughout the day," Buchanan said. "I don't think he did much differently to what he was doing previously to getting the wickets." McGrath had stood on the dressing room balcony at tea with Warne and Langer while an opera singer paid tribute to them with the song Time to Say Goodbye.

Buchanan dead-panned that it was "inspirational". "Given [the wickets came] post the song we might try to get it out again tomorrow morning," he said. England will begin at 4 for 234 after an even first day. "We'd have loved to have taken one or two more wickets and England would have liked another 20 or 30 runs," he said. "The new ball is due so that might be a pretty crucial time."

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo