Advertisement

Waugh's captaincy advice for Smith

Ex-Test skipper urges Smith to keep his cool in his first Ashes series as captain

Former Test captain Steve Waugh, once the iceman of Australian cricket for the better part of two decades, has one bit of advice for Steve Smith ahead of the Magellan Ashes: keep your emotions in check.

Perhaps as a reflection of how hard he rides each rise and fall over the course of a day's play, Smith's heart-on-sleeve demeanour has become one of the hallmarks of his tenure as Test skipper.

Hands on head after a missed chance or an exasperated look following a misfield; though none would label him petulant or confrontational, Smith's emotions in the field are rarely a secret.

It's a temperament that stands in stark contrast to Waugh's, who famously stood eye-to-eye with Curtly Ambrose without raising even an eyebrow and coolly navigated Australia through a glory era.

And ahead of Smith's first Ashes series at the helm, Waugh – who won eight Test bouts against England, including two as captain – counselled the 28-year-old to be aware of how the spotlight of cricket's fiercest rivalry can quickly blow little things out of all proportion.

'Best lead-in for an Ashes we've ever had'

"The only advice I'd say for Steve this series is maybe not show so much emotion when you're in the field," Waugh told cricket.com.au.

"The camera is always on you as a captain. If you're negative in your body language or you're kicking the ground, it's going to be magnified 100 times.

"The only thing I'd say to him is keep your emotions in check a bit more."

It's an issue Smith himself addressed at the conclusion of Australia's Qantas Tour of India, one of the most fiery series in recent memory.

Having inadvertently begun what escalated into a full-blown diplomatic issue between the respective teams' boards when he momentarily sought advice from the dressing room on a DRS call in Bengaluru, Smith was later captured by cameras uttering some choice words in the team's viewing area after a contentious Indian catch in Dharamsala.

And duly apologised for allowing his passions to boil over.

Smith apologises for letting emotions falter

"I've been very intense and in my own little bubble and at times I've let my emotions and actions just falter a little bit and I apologise for that," said Smith, who struck three tons and 499 runs on the four-Test tour.

"That's a big stride for me moving forward and something I can really learn from and grow as an individual and as a leader."


Waugh admits those emotions are by no means easy to control.

Although few would have noticed, the New South Welshman rode the dips as hard as any of his teammates during his almost five-year reign as Test captain, infrequent as they were. 

Waugh saddles up again for 'The Captain's Ride'

"I almost talked to myself when someone would drop a catch or the bowlers weren't doing well," Waugh explained. 

"You almost want to show something either verbally or physically but you knew that there's every chance it would be replayed on the big screen and the whole team will be watching five seconds later.

"It's about staying in control, composed even if you're a bit ruffled or the steam is coming out your ears. 

"Don't let anybody know that. 

"You've always got to stay in charge because people look at you for guidance here, they look for you to lead the way."

With experience, Waugh explains, a skipper develops a greater understanding of everything that comes with what's traditionally known as the most important job in Australia outside of politics.

"You become more aware of (your emotions)," said the 168-Test veteran.

"When you first become captain you've got so much on your mind that you just captain the way you've always captained or what your natural traits or instincts (dictate).

"Later on you probably become a bit more conservative when you realise the ramifications either way. 

"Everything gets exaggerated when you're captain. When you're going well you're the best, when you're not going so well you're the worst captain."

Aussies weigh in on concept of four-day Test

Emotion aside, this Test summer looms as a defining moment for Smith as captain.

After five consecutive defeats culminating in an innings thumping by South Africa in Hobart last summer, he implored his teammates to show some more "pride in the Baggy Green" as a minor clean-out of the Test XI took place.

With the new-look side now set for their biggest challenge, Waugh believes Smith has the opportunity to put his own stamp on Australian cricket.

"There's nothing better than to lead your side out in that Ashes contest with that tradition and history," he said.

"For your team to have that identity, which probably right now they're probably lacking a bit, people don't really associate this Australian team as being a unit that's been together for a long time. 

"It's a chance to stabilise Australian cricket."

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

Gillette T20 INTL Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21