‘Had we lost, my head would be on chopping block’: Steve Waugh on dropping Shane Warne from 1999 Test against Windies
Speaking to former England captain Michael Atheron on Sky Sports Cricket Youtube channel, Waugh recalled the 1999 tour of West Indies and explained the reasons behind the ‘big decision’ to drop Shane Warne that he had to make.Updated: Jul 05, 2020 09:54 IST
This is no hidden secret that former Australia captain Steve Waugh and Aussie spin legend Shane Warne have not been on the best of terms over the years. It is widely believed that the tensions between the two started when Waugh, in his first tour as captain to West Indies in 1999, had dropped Warne from the team for the 4th and final Test in Antigua. Former Australia captain Mark Taylor, in an interview to Australia news channel ‘Channel 9’s’ Sports Sunday show in May had also pinpointed the same instance as the start of tensions between the two.
Speaking to former England captain Michael Atheron on Sky Sports Cricket Youtube channel, Waugh recalled the 1999 tour of West Indies and explained the reasons behind the ‘big decision’ that he had to make.
“It was my first tour as captain to West Indies. As a captain you are expected to make difficult decisions. That’s why you are given the job. You are not there to please everyone. I always wanted to be loyal to be my players to a certain point, but at the end of the day, you gotta be loyal to the team and their performance,” Waugh said.
Waugh recalled that he had a chat with the leg-spinner about the team before the fourth Test. “I, sort of, approached it with Shane before the Test match. Before the match, we had a function, so we had a live chat and I mentioned a few things. It wasn’t a complete shot and the next day I went to a team meeting. It was Geoff Marsh, Shane Warne and me.
“Back in those days, when you are on tour, the two players and the coach picked the team, the selectors didn’t have anything to do with it. I found it strange, because you had selectors picking team for series at home, but on away tours it was up to the captain to basically make the decision. Warnie had just come back from a shoulder surgery. I think he was put back into the team too quickly. We had both Stuart Macgill and him in the previous Test, turning the ball the same way. Lara, and all the left-handers were hitting with the spin, and I just thought it was the right decision.
“I didn’t consult too many players. I think, when you are consult too many people, as a captain, you get confused. At the end of the day, you are there to make the decision, it was a tough one, of course,” the 1999 ODI World Cup winning captain said.
Waugh decided to pick spinners Colin Miller and Stuart Macgill instead of Warne in the 4th and final Test. Australia won the Test by 176 runs and the series was levelled at 2-2.
“You’ve got to trust your get instinct sometimes. Other people are always going to have their opinions. It was never going to be a popular decision, and had we lost the Test, my head would have been on the chopping blocks, but thankfully we won the Test and end up drawing the series,” Waugh added.
The former Aussie captain further said that in a way, he was trying to protect Warne, who was not in his best of form. “Looking back, I think it was the right decision, but it was also the making of me as a captain because I can make that big decision that was not going to be easy but I knew it was beneficial for the team at the time. In a lot of way, I was trying to protect Shane, because he wasn’t bowling well at the time. Obviously, he didn’t see that way, but if we had gone on to lose on the next Test, it wouldn’t have been good for anyone,” he added.