Waugh predicts more success after end to perfect summer
HAMILTON, NZ, April 3 AAP - Steve Waugh today predicted his Australian cricket team is only at the start of the record-breaking path it blazed throughout the summer, predicting another monumental harvest next season.
Australia capped off its perfect summer today when it raced to a six-wicket win over New Zealand in the third Test in Hamilton, steered to victory by an unbeaten 122 from Justin Langer.
The win completed Australia's third successive series whitewash, retaining the Trans-Tasman Trophy and ending a season which included:
- a national record unbeaten 10-match winning streak, spanning wins over Zimbabwe, Pakistan, India and New Zealand.
- 3-0 series wins over Pakistan, India and New Zealand
- the first clean sweep in Australia-New Zealand Test series
- Shane Warne's 356th Test wicket, passing Dennis Lillee's national record and
- in one-day internationals, a world record unbeaten streak of 14 matches.
"I believe this is only the beginning and we can play better than that," Waugh said.
"We're on the verge of something special. We've got a couple of months off but when we come back for that first Test against the West Indies in Brisbane (in November), we're going to be fired up and you're going to see us play some exciting cricket.
"You can achieve anything you want. It's a matter of whether you want to do the hard work and believe it.
"We did that - so there's no reason we can't win the series in Australia next year exactly the same way."
Australia must win in Brisbane to equal the West Indies' world record of 11 consecutive wins after it surged into double figures with today's no-nonsense end to the New Zealand series.
The tourists began the fourth day at 3-137, needing another 73 runs for victory, and Langer ensured it would take only one hour to chalk it up.
He reached his century from 102 balls before later punching a cover drive to the boundary for the winning runs.
The West Australian marked both moments by punching the air and he was still smiling when the Australian team song blared across WestpacTrust Park more than one hour later.
It won't be heard again until at least November, but Waugh was glad for the break after leading his country so well through 13 Tests in four different countries in seven months.
"I'm glad it's over. It's been a long haul but we've played some great cricket but I'm really pleased with the progress some of the players have made," Waugh said.
"But I feel mentally fatigued. We've had cricket in 20 of the last 22 months and eight overseas tours and I'm looking forward to having a so-called normal life for a couple of months."
New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming admitted it was hard to swallow the 3-0 whitewash after the Black Caps showed plenty of fight during three gripping Test matches.
They had chances to push the knife into Australia in every match, especially when Waugh was dismissed on Saturday with the score at a perilous 5-29.
"At the time, I said to a few guys that it was amazing because I wasn't one bit concerned about the game," Waugh said.
"And that's the feeling we've got in the side at the moment - that we can get out of any situation.
"I knew someone would play well and we would get out it somehow. "
Wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist and his West Australian mate Damien Martyn came to the rescue and Gilchrist was today rewarded with the man of the match award after also claiming an Australian record 10 dismissals in the match.
His debut Test season, along with fast bowling star Brett Lee, and the resurgence of Langer's Test career were among the individual highlights of Australia's summer.
But the players must quickly turn their attention back to one-day cricket, with Waugh leading the national squad to South Africa on Saturday for three international matches, completing the national commitments until August.