I’ve a dozen books piled up on my bookshelf staring angrily at me. I’ve not done justice to them. I’m halfway through “ The One Who Will” by Jack Egan currently. I have not yet completed Steve’s autobiography “Out of my Comfort Zone” ( I know I’ll get murdered for this confession by my friend PK who gifted this one to me!) but that will be off my to-do list sooner than later.
Jack Egan never got a chance to speak to Waugh when writing this book and the book is a compilation of thoughts from people who knew Waugh as a cricketer, paper clippings, some book references and his tour diaries. The book still makes for interesting reading.
And why am I writing this before completing the book – cause our GOD will break this man’s record of 168 tests tomorrow as he steps onto P Sara Oval – Colombo.
I’m at the half-way stage in the book where Australia has commenced the 95 tour of WI – the tour that turned the tide for the record breaking Aus side. I’ve not yet reached the double hundred that changed the course for all – for Steve and for Australia. I will share interesting tit-bits from the rest of book once I complete it – until then satisfy yourselves with some excerpts on this wonderful sporting hero . However grumpy he might have been – his game always brought a smile to our faces.
On how much he was respected by his then captain Allan Border.1987 WC :
“The rest of us have had legs of jelly but he seems to go ahead and just do it”
“He’s the sort of bloke that you know is not going to freeze. If he gets hit , it’s because the bloke’s played a good shot”
A few things on Waugh’s grumpy attitude:
Waugh had over the years gained a reputation among umpires in Australia as “always reluctant to leave the crease” . Mike Coward once wrote in the Sydeny Morning Herald, critical of Waugh’s attitude:
“Just when will Steve Waugh lighten up?He presents an unhappy and unsmiling soul, and this is such a pity; cause in many ways he is a very special cricket person.”
Peter Roebuck described him as the bloke whose lawnmower has broken down” :-)
The long wait for the much awaited first test hundred – Headingley, Ashes 1989. Ian Healy narrates in his book "Hands and Heals":
“ The relief and joy was palpable. Stephen put his head down, determined to get as many as he could. That was his way of savouring the moment. When he reached 137, he looked up to the players' balcony and waved at Tubby Taylor , who had made 136. ‘Gotcha’ he signalled.”
When he faced his first failure, Steve Waugh on being dropped in Jan 1991 from the test team and replaced by his twin Mark Waugh:
“It doesn’t really sink in until the plane is ready to leave and you are not on it”
When in 12th, the career advisers asked the Waugh twins what they wanted to do – both said ‘Play cricket in England’
Confidence. Lynette ( Steve’s wife): The first time Steve visited her place for dinner, someone asked what he was going to do for a living – he said ‘Play cricket for Australia’. The whole table went quiet.
His sense of humor:
In his early Sheffield Sheild trips he roomed with Imran Khan. They used to get lot of phone calls , mostly for Imran who was out all the time. Steve would answer the phone and say, “Hello, when would you like to come up?”
Against New Zealand, Australia was 300-1 at Hobart. Taylor was quite stodgy and crowd began getting abusive. When he came back to the dressing room and started complaining about the crowd’s ignorance and slow handclapping, Steve replied, “ Actually it was us mate, we started it”.
And how he became the master of singles – an art he became famous for in his career.
Bob Simpson worked hard on Waugh’s technique. Simpson narrates: “First you got to understand it doesn’t matter how bad you look avoiding the bouncer, it’s better to avoid than try to play it down if you are not capable of playing it down.
And that’s when he appreciated the full significance of the singles. Stephen had always been a four-hitter and so we worked hard on the ball coming in to the body. Move across to the off, all the weight on the right foot and you can roll through it, push it away to leg, get off the strike so that the bloke can’t get at you again. I don’t care who it is , if you get enough short bouncers, you start to worry about them – anyone who says they like fast bowling is an absolute liar.”
And those are just bits and pieces of what I’m reading now. The golden period is yet to begin,loads to come and loads to share. Watch this space for more.
Until then let’s celebrate the bloke’s achievements, one of which will be broken tomorrow by our very own little master. Let’s once again remind ourselves how blessed we have been to have witnessed Tugga play live!