New Zealand v Australia Tests
Smith leadership impresses Waugh
Baggy Green legend heaps praise on current skipper for reaction after being hit with dissent charge in Christchurch Test
27 February 2016, 11:06 AM AEST
Praise for your captaincy doesn't come in much higher form than a ringing endorsement from Steve Waugh, but that's just what Steve Smith has received in the wake of his dissent charge in the Christchurch Test.
Smith was fined 30 per cent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council for his exchange with on-field umpire Ranmore Martinesz in the second Test against New Zealand following a failed referral to the third umpire.
The incident also saw fast bowler Josh Hazlewood fined 15 per cent of his match fee for an outburst made public after the host broadcaster left the stump microphone channels open.
Smith said after the Test he would "cop that (dissent charge) on the chin".
"I need to be better as a leader; I need to set the example, and that wasn't good enough, I guess."
Those words were music to the ears of Baggy Green legend Waugh, who believes Smith will emerge a stronger leader from the incident.
"I think it's a real positive sign he admits things haven't gone exactly as he'd like them to go and he's learning from his mistakes, which is a great sign as a leader," Waugh told Sky News' Sportsline segment.
"You're not always going to get it right first up. He plays with a lot of passion and enthusiasm and perhaps last week he may have crossed that line.
"And he recognises that, which is a really important step for him to take as a leader.
Quick Single: Smith record tops Australian legends
"I think he's done a really fantastic job, guys want to play with him, he leads by example and the last 12 months he really hasn't put a foot wrong."
Smith's captaincy is still in its infancy, but he has an incredible record leading Australia in Test matches, with seven wins, four draws and zero defeats in his first 11 Tests as skipper.
Smith averages 87.46 with the bat as skipper – up from his career mark of 60.18 – and six of his 14 Test centuries coming as the team's leader.
Waugh offered some insight into how he helped create a fearsome Baggy Green aura under his leadership with a star-studded team that won a world record 16 consecutive Tests between 1999 and 2001.
"In my mind it was all about giving off that really good positive vibe, great body language," Waugh told Fairfax.
"The way we acted as a team, all of a sudden, the other side started to doubt themselves without us even playing cricket. Once we played we played a really aggressive brand of cricket, we tried to pressurise the opposition, we tried to disorientate them with pressure and all of a sudden we're on top.
"So you sort of almost create this aura and next minute everyone starts to believe it."
Waugh paid tribute to the current players who have dramatically turned around Australia's fortunes since losing the Ashes last August to now sit top of the Test tree with the world No.1 ranking.
But he sounded a note of caution for Australia's next major assignment, the World T20 in India.
"Australia is definitely in with a chance (to win the tournament), a good chance, but India right now would be pretty comfortable with where they're sitting," Waugh told Sky.
"The subcontinent teams on the turning slow pitches of India will probably hold a significant advantage. I think India are probably the firm favourites, but anything is possible.
"If you get some momentum going into the bigger games (and) one or two of your key players finding form then it is possible for any team to win that (World T20).
Waugh also distanced himself further from the controversy started by Shane Warne, saying he was "too busy" with his charitable work to get involved.
Quick Single: Waugh opens up on Warne
Warne stunned observers when claiming Waugh was "the most selfish cricketer I've played with" on Channel Ten's I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.
Asked how difficult it was to deal with that, Waugh responded in typical fashion: "Not that hard."
"In truth I'm too busy, I've got so much going on with my own charity, we've got a couple of big events coming up … Life is too busy to worry about comments like that."
The Steve Waugh Foundation has been in operation for 10 years and focuses its efforts on supporting children who suffer from rare diseases.