The day Mark Waugh and an idiot walked out on one of Aussie sport's greatest moments

Ahead of the SCG Test, Adam Lucius recounts how he left early and missed Steve Waugh's famous century in the Ashes in 2003.

Mark Waugh, pictured here alongside brother Steve.
Mark Waugh walked out of the SCG before brother Steve scored his famous century in 2003. Image: Getty

I was there hugging complete strangers the night John Aloisi slotted the penalty that would take the Socceroos to a World Cup for the first time in 32 years. Kicked on, too, to the World Cup itself when Tim Cahill brought us back from the dead against Japan in Kaiserslautern, staying on to watch our next three games before Fabio Grosso's dive put paid to it all.

I was also there the night Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal sunk the Wallabies in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, watched from the Brewongle Stand as Michael Bevan whacked Roger Harper down the ground to seal a famous ODI win on the first day of 1996 and dropped over to Trinidad and Tobago to see the Aussies bowl a Brian Lara-led West Indies out for just 51 in 1999.

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I've also been on hand to watch Newcastle, South Sydney, North Queensland and Cronulla break premiership droughts in rugby league, survived Caxton St after a rare NSW win at Suncorp Stadium and took in gold medal wins at the Sydney Olympics. But when the conversation at the bar turns to great sporting moments you've witnessed first-hand, I silently retreat into my schooner and wait for the inevitable.

"Why don’t you ask this goose about the time he walked out on Steve Waugh's century at the SCG…idiot missed the whole thing," comes the cry from one of my so-called mates. That's not quite true.

Yes, I'm an idiot but I did see most of the innings, just not the most important part. Twenty years ago (January 3, 2003 to be exact), I rocked up with the old man, my brother and a few mates to take in the second day of the fifth Ashes Test.

Steve Waugh, pictured here after reaching his century in the fifth Ashes Test against England at the SCG in 2003.
Steve Waugh celebrates after reaching his century in the fifth Ashes Test against England at the SCG in 2003. (Photo by Nick Wilson/Getty Images)

It would be Waugh's final match in the baggy green unless he could produce something special. Not out on nine at tea, there was nothing to suggest this would be his day.

Steve hadn’t been in the best of nick. And while he was going at a reasonable rate an hour after tea, he wasn't exactly thrashing the Poms' attack to all parts of the ground.

It was around about then a mate turned to me and uttered the fatal words: "I drove….do you want a lift home?" Do I want a lift home? Back home were two kids under three who'd be up since about 5am and a missus that could probably do with a hand.

I was at least eight to 10 schooners deep and the public transport option – with a quick debrief at a Circular Quay pub – would add at least two hours to my ETA. I looked at the angel and devil resting on either shoulder and for once chose the one in white.

"Thanks, that'd be good. When are you going?" I asked my chauffeur. He informed me the Barina would depart the SCG carpark a few overs before stumps to avoid the logjam created when 8000 cars are funnelled into an exit the size of a mouse hole.

Steve Waugh, pictured here sending the SCG into meltdown with his Ashes century in 2003.
Steve Waugh sent the SCG into meltdown with his Ashes century in 2003. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

Mark Waugh also left before brother Steve's century

So, with no real indication Waugh was going to reach triple figures, we left with about 20 minutes to go. I was in good company. Walking out at the same time was Mark Waugh, heading to Harold Park trots convinced his twin was no hope of getting a ton that night.

"He was going so slowly, I thought 'come on, get on with it'," Mark would later say. Just as I reached my mate's car, which was about 700m away from the SCG, I heard a deafening roar and instantly felt sick in the stomach.

The car radio confirmed my worst fear. The great Steve Rodger Waugh had reached his century on the final ball of the day and the SCG was going mad without me.

I'd walked out on one of Australian sport's greatest moments – a moment that would be analysed, reminisced about and replayed ad nauseam for the rest of my life. Did I mention I was an idiot?

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