Waugh wants focus on Shield, Premier cricket

The former Australia captain believes Sheffield Shield cricket deserves plenty of respect


19 September 2018, 08:28 AM AEST

Steve Waugh wants Cricket Australia to get back to basics and treat Sheffield Shield and Premier cricket with more respect.

Waugh led Australia throughout a dominant era; none of the country's long-term Test captains have bettered his winning ratio of 72 per cent.

The legend has been floated as a potential white knight for Australian cricket, which is desperate for success but just as keen to regain the respect of fans following the Cape Town cheating scandal.

Waugh, who departs next month on his Captain's Ride charity event that raises funds and awareness for Australian children affected by rare diseases, says he is yet to be approached by CA about formal role.

But the 53-year-old has informally shared some thoughts with new coach Justin Langer and key players in the new era.

Waugh suggested CA should have more respect for its traditional school of hard knocks.

"When I played for Australia I couldn't wait to go back and play grade cricket," he told AAP.

"That's why we were always strong.

"Now it's seen as cause for celebration, people are put on a pedestal because they're playing grade cricket."

Waugh highlighted how international stars had been replaced during Shield matches in recent years, reducing those contests to being "almost fitness tests".

"Once you lose that basis and strong culture, that's why we're in trouble," he said.

"We're crumbling a bit in those areas. There's great pathways, coaching, facilities.

"But we just need to get back to that hard-nosed cricket at grade and Shield level, then you'll see the best players coming through and developing.

Steve Smith and David Warner will return to Premier cricket on Saturday, with the former playing alongside Waugh's son Austin for Sutherland.

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The suspended superstars would have gone the whole summer without making a single Premier appearance, if not for the ball-tampering saga.

Waugh, who scored 32 Test tons during a career that spanned almost 20 years, suggested he could be interested in a challenging role at CA.

"I mentor a lot of the players privately, and Cricket Australia probably wouldn't even be aware of 90 per cent of what I've done," Waugh said.

Regarding the behavioural charter that Tim Paine's side will soon adopt, Waugh noted they have a chance to hit the reset button but "players already know what''s acceptable".

Waugh, dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes and other cyclists will cover more than 700kms, almost a quarter of which is vertical climbing, in just six days on the Captain's Ride.

"It's a daunting task. We want it to be a challenge, to emulate the spirit of the kids we support," Waugh said.

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