Steve Waugh was the centre of resurgence for Australian cricket in the 20th century. The elder of the Waugh brothers, Steve is the most successful Test captains to have graced the game beside being a great batsman. His captaincy stint began in 1999 after Mark Taylor retired and he started by retaining the Frank Worrell Trophy in a dramatic 2-2 series draw against the West Indies in the Caribbean.
However, it was the next series in Sri Lanka, where he realised that he could be better as a captain after an on-field collision with then Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie. The incident took place in the first Test at Kandy as both the players were subsequently admitted to the hospital. Waugh broke his nose and Gillespie broke his leg.
The accident came as turning point in his career. He said it took him nearly a year to realise his style. At the hospital bed, while thinking that has he done justice to himself ‘if he doesn’t retains captaincy’, Waugh decided to believe his gut instinct more often then relying on other for a piece of advice.
“At 33 it still probably took me 6-12 months to realise my style. I was still probably leading by consensus a bit early on because I’d been mates with these guys (teammates) for a long period of time and all of a sudden I was the leader,” Waugh told Damian Barrett on a recent episode of the AFL journalist’s podcast In The Game.
“So having to separate myself a little bit from the rest of the guys was a challenge.
“I finally realised that when I was in a hospital bed in Colombo with a broken nose and Jason Gillespie had a broken leg.
“I was sitting there in a hospital bed thinking, ‘If I never get to captain again, have I done myself justice? Had I done it my way?’ And the answer was, no I hadn’t.
“From that point on I said just trust my gut instinct and do it my way. And that was probably the turning point in my captaincy career,” he added.
Waugh had a brilliant record as a Test captain with 71.92% of wins. The prolific batsman retired with 10927 runs in Test cricket at an average of 51.06. He hit 32 centuries and 52 half-centuries in the format. In the ODIs, he featured in 325 matches for Australia, scoring over 7000 runs.
It was Steve, who developed the slog sweep technique during the 1998 Commonwealth Games, against spin bowling. He was a defensive, on the back foot kind of player, who liked to sway away from the bouncers rather challenging it. However, a back injury, kept him away from bowling .