‘Steve was adamant he wanted to win’: Shane Warne feels Waugh missed a trick during India-Australia 2001 Test
Shane Warne said Steve Waugh’s urge to record that elusive 17th win, beating India on their home, could have clouded his judgment.Updated: Aug 23, 2020, 18:25 IST
Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne feels Steve Waugh made the wrong decision to enforce the follow-on on India during their historic 2001 Test match at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. The Eden Test stands out as one of India’s most memorable matches – perhaps their greatest Test match of all time – which saw VVS Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid (180) forge a partnership of 376 runs and shepherd one of Test cricket’s greatest comebacks.
Dravid and Laxman’s partnership laid the groundwork for India’s mammoth 657/7 declared, a stage from where they came back to win the Test match, becoming only the third team in history to win a Test after following-on.
In reply to Australia’s first-innings total of 445, India were bundled out for 171. Warne, who was at the receiving end of Dravid and Laxman’s partnership, revealed how Waugh decided to enforce the follow-on despite a few of his bowlers feeling slightly tired from bowling in the first innings.
“It was 45 degrees and we’d been out in the field for a long time. The wicket was going to get worse. I think at that time, I remember Steve Waugh coming up to us bowlers - Gillespie, McGrath, myself and Kasprowicz,” Warne said during commentary on Day 2 of the second Test between England and Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl.
“As we had them seven down, eight down, nine down, Steve came up and went ‘Hey! How you feeling?’. McGrath was like ‘I’m a bit weary. I was like... weary, let’s use that word. Kasprowicz was like ‘I’m ready to go skip’”.
Ahead of the series, Waugh had called India the ‘final frontier’. Australia won the opening Test of the series in Mumbai comprehensively by 10 wickets to stretch their winning streak to 16 Tests. Warne said Waugh’s urge to record that elusive 17th win, beating India on their home, could have clouded his judgment.
“Those were completely different conditions back then and Steve was adamant that he wanted to win that record amount of Test matches in a row, I think it was 17,” Warne said.
“To me, that was the only way India could win the Test match. If we go and bat again and make the 200-lead into 450, India would have tried and saved the match and it would have been a completely different game. So yeah, I think he got that wrong.”