Lest anyone should forget in the flurry of indignation and surprise, Steve Waugh contributed as much to his own downfall as one-day captain as did his country’s national selectors.
Ultimately Waugh was simply the victim of his team’s success. The more they won, and the more convincingly they won, the less there was for him to do as a player. So the less he did.
But then, when the team didn’t win, the selectors felt obliged to review the make-up of the XI and they noticed that the captain’s contributions had dwindled.
Waugh used to field in the gulley until he dropped a couple of hard catches last season and moved himself to mid off – occasionally extra cover.
There is nowhere to ‘hide’ in the field in a one-day international but the skipper certainly positioned himself in the quieter areas.
By midway, through the VB series Waugh had bowled twice in just over a year. It may not even have been a conscious decision, but the captain had become guilty of sitting back and admiring his team rather than playing a full part in it.
The selectors warned him during the VB series that he needed to be an all rounder once again and suddenly he bowled in two successive matches – he looked understandably rusty, not to mention strange bowling at a time when his medium pacers were hardly called for.
It should be a lesson every South African cricketer should remember. When the going gets tough it is the players who want, and are seen to want, a major part of the action that will be the last to be cut.
Waugh remains a brilliant cricketer and leader and there may yet be a way for him to return, but for the moment he may wonder how on earth he allowed himself to become a passenger in his own team.
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