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Wednesday, May 30, 2001

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Ashes squads should visit Gallipoli: Waugh


MELBOURNE, MAY 29. Australia's cricket captain Steve Waugh said on Tuesday that stopping over to visit the World War I battlefields of Gallipoli should be part of the schedule for each four-yearly Ashes tour. ``I'd like to see all Australian sides on their way to England come here,'' Waugh was quoted as saying from Gallipoli in The Age newspaper.

''It's a tradition we can start, and it's something all sides would want to do. It's got to be good for team spirit, the guys being here. It's such a peaceful place, such a beautiful place. That's the hardest thing, to realise what happened here.''

Australia is ranked the best Test cricket team in the world and is on its way to England this week for a three-month tour including five Tests against England preceded by a one-day series involving England and Pakistan. Australia is also the one- day champion after winning the 1999 World Cup.

More than 8,000 Australian troops, under the direction of the British, died in battle against the turks at Gallipoli in 1915, just 14 years after Australia became a nation.

``Speaking under a gentle sun in weather just as perfect as that day, April 25, 1915, when many of the 16,000 troops took shelter from Turkish fire on the narrow beach, Waugh spoke eloquently about his team's first visit to the place where the young nation forged its identity,'' the newspaper said.

April 25 is a national holiday in Australia to remember the sacrifices of war. Waugh said when he thought of Australian troops freezing in the trenches for eight months, he realised he had nothing about which to complain. ''People say we're heroes, but really we're not. The guys here were the heroes,'' Waugh said. ``We just go out and play sport.''

Australian players including Steve and Mark Waugh, Glenn McGrath and Michael Bevan laid wreaths at memorials. McGrath, who is just 30 wickets away from overtaking Dennis Lillee's Australian fast- bowling record of 355 Test wickets, was moved by the experience, the Herald Sun newspaper said.

``One thing I always did on Anzac day (April 25) was put on my (war veteran) grandfather's medal and walk down to the war memorial,'' McGrath was quoted as saying. ``That was something I was very proud to do then and it means even more to me now.'' - Reuters

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