Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne has heavily criticised ex-captain Steve Waugh in a new book.
Waugh played 145 Tests between 1992 and 2007, many under the captaincy of Waugh, who succeeded former skipper Mark Taylor in 1999.
The same year saw Waugh drop Warne from the first-choice playing XI for the fourth Test against the West Indies. Fellow leg-spinner Stuart MacGill played instead, replacing a teammate who had taken just two wickets at an average of 134.00 in the three Tests prior. The Aussies won the match, as MacGill snared five key wickets.
‘I was vice-captain and bowling pretty ordinary and Waugh opened the selection meeting between the two of us and Geoff Marsh, the coach, by saying, “Warney, I don’t think you should play this next Test.”
‘Er, right,’ I said. ‘Why?’ “I don’t think you’re bowling very well, mate.” Yes, fair call,’ I admitted. ‘My shoulder after surgery is taking longer than I thought but it’s close now. The feel is slowly coming back and then the rhythm will come, mate. I’m not worried,’ read an extract from Warne’s book published in The Times this week.
‘Disappointed is not a strong enough word. When the crunch came Waugh didn’t support me, and I felt so totally let down by someone who I had supported big time and was also a good friend.
‘I conducted myself badly, to be honest. I wasn’t that supportive of the team, which I regret. Looking back, this was probably a combination of the shoulder issue still eating away at me and the pure anger bubbling inside at Steve’s lack of trust. During the first three Tests, at various times some of the bowlers came to me, grumbling about Waugh’s captaincy and field placements and stuff.
‘I said I was backing him to the hilt and if they had a problem with the captain they should go see him direct. Perhaps because of this, I was deeply disappointed that he didn’t back me in return.’
The veteran Waugh captained Australia in 57 Tests – and won 41. The steely right-hander averaged 51.06 when a 168-Test career ended in 2004. He, too, proved triumphant 67 times in 106 ODIs.
‘He became a completely different person when he took over as captain. It wasn’t that he dropped me. I have no issue about being dropped if I’m not performing; if you don’t perform, out you go. But there was more to it than my performances – I think it was jealousy,’ added Warne.
‘He started to niggle away, telling me to look at my diet and spend more time on deciding what sort of person I wanted to be in my life, how to conduct myself – that sort of stuff. I said, “Mate – worry about yourself”.’