Waugh responds to Warne criticism
Former Test captain issues short statement as book extract reveals tensions on 1999 tour of the West Indies
10 February 2016, 11:17 AM AEST
Test great Steve Waugh has delivered a short response to Shane Warne's claims that the former Test captain was "the most selfish cricketer I've ever played with".
The long-standing feud between the former teammates hit the headlines again on Tuesday when Warne opened up about his axing from Australia's Test side on their tour of the West Indies in 1999.
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Seventeen years after Warne was dropped for the final Test of the series - which the Aussies won to retain the Frank Worrell Trophy - the legspinner still holds ill will towards his former captain.
"There's a lot of reasons I don't like Steve Waugh ... (one of them) because he's the most selfish cricketer I've played with," Warne said on Network Ten reality show 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here'.
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"I was really disappointed with (being dropped) after (almost) 10 years. I'd just had a shoulder operation. I thought the situation of having to win a Test match would've brought the best out in me too.
"I don't like Steve Waugh for a lot of other reasons, but that was the reason I thought (there was no way that relationship would recover)."
In a short statement on Wednesday, Waugh responded: "I'm not justifying his comments with an answer."
Australia allrounder Shane Watson, who played with both Waugh and Warne at the start of his career, said his experiences with both players have been nothing but positive.
"I was fortunate enough to go on my first tour (of South Africa in 2002) with Steve Waugh as captain and he has always been incredibly generous with his time for me," Watson told cricket.com.au in Dubai.
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"On my first tour, he went out of his way to be accessible, to be able to talk to him about cricket and life.
"All the way through, he’s been incredibly good to me – as has Shane Warne.
"In the end, everyone has their own experience with individuals.
"Shane Warne has had his experience with Steve Waugh, but my experience with Steve Waugh has been only (good).
"He’s a great person and legend of not just Australian cricket but world cricket. You can only judge people on how they have been to you."
Warne's comments have re-ignited the public dispute between two of Australia's greatest players that bubbled along throughout the later years of their decorated careers.
Warne and Waugh during their playing days // Getty
The omission of Warne from the Test match in Antigua - and the rumours of a rift between he and Waugh that quickly followed - was one of the major talking points from that eventful 1999 tour.
Cricket.com.au's Andrew Ramsey was part of touring press pack in the Caribbean, recalling the tensions between Waugh and Warne in an extract from his 2012 book The Wrong Line.
Andrew Ramsey on the Waugh-Warne feud in the West Indies, 1999
Most of that Tests’s news fodder was provided by Shane Warne.
Not only had he been overlooked for the captaincy, his effectiveness in Test cricket since returning from shoulder surgery was so blunted that his place in the starting XI was also uncertain.
Rumours of a rift between Stephen Waugh and his deputy had surfaced so, in the absence of any verifiable evidence, the touring press decided to pool its expenses money and issue a dinner invitation to the Australian coach, Geoff Marsh, as well as the skipper and his lieutenant.
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The hope was that any existing tensions might spill into the public domain over a bite to eat and a couple of rum and colas.
Warne kept a conspicuous distance from his teammates as we assembled for pre-prandial drinks on the hotel’s poolside terrace.
For perhaps the only time in his career, he opted to mingle with journalists rather than his fellow celebrities. When it came time to be seated, Marsh and Waugh chose one end of the table for twenty that spanned the length of the portico, ceiling fan whirring ineffectively above them.
Warne chose the opposite end, where the recent media arrivals and a couple of heavily sun-kissed photographers were seated.
His unspoken hope was that talk at the shallow end would not extend to selection dilemmas for the upcoming Test.
Although facing the greatest on-field shake-up of his headline-studded Test career – he was dropped for the one and only time in Antigua – Warne was nothing if not pleasant, though clearly subdued, company that evening.
The only time he spat it was when he bit into a dinner roll sprinkled with caraway. A mouthful of aniseed-infused bread was not what his notoriously unadventurous palate had anticipated.
His green eyes bulged wide in horror, and his face contorted like a test pilot subjected to fifteen-plus g-forces. Opting not to discreetly swallow the morsel already in his mouth and avoid the remainder, he instead rasped up the barely chewed lump into a napkin.
He then wrapped it hurriedly and frantically summoned a waiter.
‘Dunno what they’ve put in that, pal,’ he spluttered, handing over the parcel as if it contained an inexpertly wired bomb.
That was the end of Warne’s dalliance with fine dining.
He dismissed, out of hand, the menu’s seafood delicacies, and instead suggested the chef might like to whip him up a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise. With a side of plain white bread.
By contrast, Stephen Waugh’s only concern was whether the press corps was indeed footing the entire bill.
Upon learning that was the deal, he delighted in ordering a lobster entrée followed by a lobster main course.
The Australian captain enjoyed getting one up on the media almost as much as he craved winning games of cricket.
This is an edited extract from Andrew Ramsey's book 'The Wrong Line' published by ABC Books and which is available in paperback or e-book through the ABC Shop