Once upon a time, Shane Warne and Steve Waugh were fast friends.
As part of the mighty Australian side of the 1990’s and 2000’s, they were unconquerable, united in victory presiding over the world of cricket.
Shane Warne, in a reality show, called his former skipper “the most selfish cricketer I have played with”.
The reference was to his axing from the final Test in 1999 when the ‘kangaroos’ toured the West Indies.
Waugh initially preferred not to respond issuing a curt statement that read:
“I’m not justifying his comments with an answer.”
He later opened up to Triple M commercial radio.
“To be fair, not only Shane, any player I had to tell was dropped wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy telling Adam Dale he was dropped for a Test match or Greg Blewett. There were a number of players I had to tell they weren’t playing. As a captain, that is the hardest thing to do. But it’s also why you’re the captain, because people expect you to make the tough decisions for the benefit of the team. You have got to do that at times and you have got to be prepared not to be liked by everyone.”
“I guess, the main thing as a captain and leader, as long as people respect your decision, that is all you can ask. You have got to take a bit of a risk sometimes. It’s not always the obvious thing to do. Sometimes it can be gut feel, it can be based on facts…at the end of the day, you are a leader because people expect you to make a choice.”
Great teams need great players. And it goes without argument that these two giants of Australian cricket count among them.
But it doesn’t necessarily mean that they always see eye to eye on all matters.
Even the best of friends fall out when their interests collide. And Warne was a strong contender for the top job in Australian cricket, only to be denied by the establishment.
The Spin King would have made a great skipper. Better than Waugh? That’s debatable.
Whatever the case, for a team to do well, their stalwarts have to subsume their differences towards a common goal.
Waugh and Warne were able to do that and how.
Soon after their rift the Aussie side lifted the 1999 ODI World Cup with Warne coming good in the semis and the final bagging man-of-the-match awards. This after the side were almost knocked out of the tournament by South Africa.
Yes, they weren’t the best of pals. They still aren’t.
But they were also seekers of excellence in their respective fields.
Just goes to show that you don’t need to be the best of buddies to be teammates.
Just able to meet on common ground to get things done in the best manner possible.
Teammates, yes. BFF, no.
It’s possible that team-members become best friends.
But it’s not necessary that best buddies make the best teammates.
Paradoxical, yes. Untrue, no.
Leave your comments below.
If Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Michael Holding have their way, there will be no more commemorative coins to toss while celebrating special Test occasions.
Former Aussie skipper Ponting suggested—during the recent Ashes series—that the toss be done away with and have the visiting side choose which side should bat first. This would even out any advantage from pitches prepared to suit the home side.
Speaking to Melbourne Radio Station, Waugh said:
“I don’t mind that, I think that’s not such a bad thing. At the end of the day I think there’s probably too much emphasis placed on the toss and the conditions away from home. I don’t mind the authorities looking at some other options.”
Michael Holding, in his column for Wisden India, wrote:
“…the concerned authorities must look at what Ricky Ponting suggested – no more tosses. The minor setback there in my opinion, is that tosses are big for television. It makes for good tension, everyone is focussed on that coin when it’s in the air and the winning captain’s decision and so on. But that isn’t relevant now, times have changed and interest is waning in Test match cricket. What you need to do now is to make sure you have even contests between bat and ball. For that, there should be no toss and the visiting captain should be allowed to decide what he wants to do after inspecting the pitch. It’ll ensure better pitches throughout the world, because no one will look to build a pitch whose features are obvious, and which will give an immediate advantage to the visiting captain. They will try and prepare good quality surfaces that give no obvious advantage to anyone, which is what you want in Test matches. Some may say that policy will produce flat lifeless pitches with boring games. I disagree. You will still see a bit of ‘hometown’ pitches which suit the qualities of the home team more than the opposition, but the slant won’t be as dramatic as we tend to see in some countries now.”
In his previous post, the West Indian fast bowler elaborated on what makes a side great.
“Great teams can win home and away, and good teams will win at home. It’s as simple as that. I don’t personally see much wrong with that, to be honest. It comes down to how people classify them. Teams should only be qualified as ‘great’ only if they can perform all over the world, and can excel everywhere. If they don’t, they’re not a great team, and that’s fine.
I don’t think the boards should actively try and do something about making it even, you don’t need to say: ‘okay, we have to find a way of making sure teams can do well overseas’. On the contrary, talk to the individuals, the players who are actually playing and performing, and see what necessary adjustments should be done for them to be successful when they leave their homes. There is nothing wrong with people failing away from home as far as world cricket is concerned. I don’t think they should try and make an adjustment. If you can, you can. If you’re not good enough, you’re just not good enough.
Having said that, when you go to some countries, the pitches are prepared in such a way that they are highly in favour of the home team. And I’m talking about even going to some parts of the subcontinent, in India, for instance, where you find – not necessarily now, but quite a few years ago – pitches that turn from day one. It didn’t matter who was touring India, because they knew they had great spinners, and they would be brought into the game from day one.
In England, they changed the nature of the pitches altogether, because they recognised that without seaming pitches, they had no chance of beating Australia. As I said before, I don’t see it as a major factor when you say teams are better at home than overseas, but if you want to have consistent pitches in countries, then you have got to adapt the principle that Ricky Ponting suggested – get rid of the toss.
All you need is for the visiting team to look at the pitch and decide what they will do. Then you will always get consistent pitches, because if it’s too heavily favoured in one way or the other, then the visiting team can take advantage with their decision. That way you’ll get consistent pitches, but that doesn’t mean all of sudden touring sides will start winning away from home. They’ll get a better chance of winning, but at the same time, they’ll have to play well to win away from home, because you can’t change overhead conditions. The ball will still swing in England, and you’ll still need good technique to play there. But the pitches won’t be that heavily favoured to the home bowlers.”
Will the ICC look into the matter?
We don’t wish to see series everywhere decided by the toss and pitches suited to the home side.
We’d like to watch real contests and adaptable players, not bully boys who score by the tons and take wickets by the dozen in their backyards and come up a cropper elsewhere.
We need classy players and their class should be evident on all surfaces and in all conditions.
Take away the toss if that’s what’s needed.
Prepare sporting wickets if that’s what’s needed.
Make curators more independent if that’s what’s needed.
Do whatever that’s needed.
Just don’t let Test cricket die.
“Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I’m gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust
How do you think I’m going to get along,
Without you, when you’re gone
You took me for everything that I had,
And kicked me out on my own
Are you happy, are you satisfied
How long can you stand the heat
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat”
The home sides will face-off in another Transmanic match-up on Sunday the 29th of March 2015 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
The Australians clinically demolished Team India’s cup hopes with an all-round display of aggression and intent with the bat and ball. They backed it up with tight fielding barring a few hiccups,
Who will it be?
New Zealand can take comfort from the fact that this is probably their best side ever and that they have beaten the Aussies in the league phases.
Now the crucial encounter is in their arch-foes’ backyard.
Do they have the gumption to seal off their World Cup campaign with a zealous kiss of victory?
The demeanor of their gum-chewing skipper Brendon Mcullum in the field against South Africa suggests so. He reminded me of tough-as-nails Steve Waugh. Will Australia drop the cup that cheers?
Michael Clark rebuilt the crumbling edifice of Oz following the exit of the best and brightest of their 3-Cup wizards.
Can Clark win his first World Cup as skipper?
Fortune favors the brave and the brave are not easily felled at home.
My pick: Australia. Can McCullum and his chums spell otherwise?
What he said:
“The hard thing about Pakistan is that they throw up these cricketers that you’ve never seen before.”
Steve Waugh is hard-pressed to explain away Australia’s batting collapse against an inexperienced Pakistani bowling attack in the first Test at Dubai.
“Their legspinner Yasir Shah looked a fantastic find, he bowled as good as anyone in the last couple of years in Test cricket and we hadn’t even seen him. They had an attack that had just eight Test matches between them yet they performed very well. So they are always a dangerous side.”
What he really meant:
“Australians pride themselves for their preparation. But it’s difficult to be prepared when you have no idea who’s going to show up. Better the devils we know than the devils we don’t, eh?”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Now if only the Pakistanis would play the IPL…We’d have an idea of their talent base… All our batsmen and bowlers now play the IPL and then graduate onto Aussie honours.. What an idea!”
The provocation for this act of ‘vandalism’ was the news that Duncan Fletcher has been appointed coach of the Indian cricket team.
It is learned from reliable, unnamed sources that the former Australian captain was in the running for arguably “the most difficult job in the sub-continent”. Negotiations with the BCCI were on-going—under the radar.
“The tables have turned from four years ago when we were in disarray and our selections were poor. Now it is the Australians’ turn to take some pain and grief, because they have got some big question marks about a few of their players and whether they should be picked for the third Test in Perth.
Remember, they gave us plenty of stick four years ago, so don’t shed any tears for them.”
Five series losses.
Two Ashes in England, the loss to South Africa down under and the two series losses to India in India.
Ricky Ponting is the most unsuccessful Australian captain in recent times. And that is saying something or maybe nothing.
Australians love their cricket and their cricketers but most of all they love to see them win.
And in recent times (not so recent), they had grown accustomed to being masters of all they surveyed.
Players like Shane Warne, Glen McGrath, Matthew Hayden, Steve Waugh, Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist ensured that they were at the top of the totem pole. This venerable list would have to include the Punter as well.
The ruthlessness exhibited by the formidable Aussies – over the last decade and a half – is best exemplified by the sixteen test victories (a world record) on the trot , not once, but twice.
Interestingly, their sequence of victories was interrupted by the very same opponent – India.
To put it succinctly: India won a match they should have lost. Australia lost a game they should have won.
Neither team deserved to lose and it was a great advertisement for Test cricket. That’s what Test cricket is all about. It’s not over until it’s truly over!
The difference was that man VVS Laxman, who reserves his best for the kangaroos.
The Aussies kept digging into their marsupial pockets for ways to counter the Hyderabadi’s merry march to victory but there were just no tricks up their sleeves.
Ricky Ponting, unlike his predecessor, Steve Waugh, seems to ,more often than not, let the game drift and that was to be the case once more when the Aussies, by rights, should have gone in for the kayo.
No discredit to the fighting qualities exhibited by Laxman, Sharma and Ojha but Ponting needs a new thinking cap and soon!
In the end, it was yet another famous victory for the No. 1 Test team and Dhoni must thank his stars that he can call upon players of the calibre of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman to do yeoman service without throwing any starry tantrums.
Is India’s No. 1 ranking in Test cricket , a fair assessment of their status in the pecking order of Test playing nations?
Does it reflect consistent performance? Is the Indian team head and shoulders above the competition?
Can Team India lay claim to greatness? Or is it an aggregation of some great individuals who have not always jelled together as a fighting unit?
Is India’s bowling truly world-class? Would India’s bowlers walk into a world eleven on the strength of their performance?
Are the accumulated points over a window of three years enough for cricket crazy fans in Indian to tom-tom India’s superiority and paper over the inconsistencies and sometimes abysmal losses?