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 @AdamBurnett09


Hall of Fame: Mark Waugh

Style, toughness and an unbelievable set of hands

To say it happens ‘once in a generation’ is clichéd and inaccurate. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes less.

Whatever the case, since his retirement more than a decade ago, Australia still awaits the arrival of another Mark Waugh; a cricketer whose endless ability was matched only by the apparent nonchalance with which he exhibited it.

Waugh’s easy brilliance was what characterised him as arguably the most entertaining batsman of his era. To pinpoint a particular shot would be to do him a disservice, for he was equally at home flicking off his pads, flashing through point, cover driving, or when he felt so inclined, lofting straight, generally into the crowd and beyond.

It was his natural instinct to attack that made him both the ideal No.4 in Australia’s dominant Test team of the mid-to-late 1990s, and the perfect opening batsman in the 50-over game, as the pyjama revolution took off and big runs in the initial 15 overs of innings became the order of the era.

At the 1996 World Cup Waugh showed the world just how effective he had become in that role. At that point, he’d already scored a century on Test debut, another classic alongside his brother Steve in Jamaica to claim the unofficial tag of ‘world champions’ for Australia, and plenty more in between.

Then, in the heat of the subcontinent, he peeled off three centuries to steer a previously underperforming Australian one-day outfit to the World Cup final.

It marked the beginning of a period during which a Mark Waugh one-day hundred was almost the norm. When he left the game in 2002, he had 18 to his name – more than any other Australian.

Yet more than any other arena, it was Test cricket in which Waugh was routinely juxtaposed with his twin. Mark was the carefree entertainer; Steve, the single-minded street-fighter. Their public personas reinforced the stereotype; where Mark walked and talked seemingly without a care in the world, Steve’s intensity bespoke a man burdened by his own expectations.

And while the comparison made for cute copy, it was often unfair and imprecise. Twenty Test centuries and more than 8,000 runs tells a story of its own, but moreover, it was Mark’s match-saving, match-winning knocks which painted a contrasting picture to that presented in the media.

Twice in the space of 12 months through 1997-98, in a period where he was at the centre of a scandal when it was revealed he and Shane Warne had accepted money from an Indian bookmaker years earlier, the grace was shelved in favour of grit. The outcomes were a pair of classic hundreds that firstly won, and then saved, matches for his country against South Africa, Australia’s most fearsome foe of the period.

Make no mistake, Mark Waugh was tough. Every bit as tough as his famously indefatigable brother.

It was evident on his first overseas Test tour, when he took up the fight to Marshall, Ambrose, Walsh and Patterson, and emerged with his reputation enhanced. And it was evident upon his retirement, when statistics showed that his run of 107 straight Test matches had been bettered by only Allan Border.

And while he spent a career attempting to dispel the myth that his batting was style over substance, Waugh’s artistry in the field only added to the stereotype that it all came so easily for the ‘more gifted’ twin.

Generally, but certainly not limited to, second slip, Waugh was a cut above his peers in the field. Sublime hands and anticipation made for a veritable highlights reel of catches, and he exited the game with 181 Test catches to his name, the world record at the time.

Twelve years on, the marks and milestones have mostly been surpassed, but for those who witnessed him play, the memories live on.

The M Waugh files

Tests 128, Runs 8,029, 100s 20, 50s 47, Avg 41.81, Catches 181, Wkts 59

ODIs 244, Runs 8,500, 100s 18, 50s 50, Avg 39.35, Catches 108, Wkts 85


Batting and Fielding Statistics

Mat

Inns

NO

Runs

HS

Ave

SR

100

50

Ct

Tests

128

209

17

8029

153*

41.81

52.27

20

47

181

ODIs

244

236

20

8500

173

39.35

76.90

18

50

108

 

Bowling Statistics

Mat

Runs

Wkts

BBI

BBM

Ave

SR

5w

Tests

128

2429

59

5/40

5/73

41.16

82.2

1

ODIs

244

2938

85

5/24

5/24

34.56

43.3

1


About the Writer

 @AdamBurnett09
@AdamBurnett09

Adam Burnett is the deputy news editor of cricket.com.au and senior news editor of bigbash.com.au. He previously wrote for and edited at Inside Cricket magazine and The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia and The Telegraph and The Guardian in the UK.

Filed Under

Australia

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