The most selfish player I played with: Warne stokes old feud
THE feud between Shane Warne and his former captain Steve Waugh has again reared its ugly head, with explosive claims in a new book.
Warne has hit out at Waugh in his latest book, No Spin, suggesting Waugh was selfish and concerned only with keeping his average above 50.
Warne pointed to the 1999 tour of the West Indies as evidence for his claims, after Waugh led calls to drop the leg-spinner, who was also vice-captain at the time.
Warne was struggling to get back to his best after major shoulder surgery and Waugh thought his deputy should be stood down after being dominated by Brian Lara in the previous Test.
Warne recalls the incident as the tipping point in the relationship breakdown between the pair.
"Anyway, we were 2-1 down," Warne writes.
"I was vice-captain and bowling pretty ordinary and Tugga (Steve Waugh) opened the selection meeting between the two of us and Geoff Marsh, the coach, by saying, "Warney, I don't think you should play this next Test." (Remember the selectors on tour were the captain, vice-captain and coach).
"Silence. "Er, right," I said. "Why?"
"I don't think you're bowling very well, mate."
"Yes . . . fair call," I admitted.
"My shoulder (after surgery) is taking longer than I thought but it's close now. The feel is slowly coming back and then the rhythm will come, mate. I'm not worried.
"The situation we're in is exactly when I perform my best. History proves that, so I'm looking forward to the match and I'm confident it'll work itself out.
"No, mate, I'm not so sure. I really don't think it's right that you play. What do you think, Swampy?"
"I think Warney should play, mate," said Geoff. "Well, I'm captain and I don't agree," said Steve. Silence.
"Swampy" suggested we ask Allan Border, who was in Antigua with a tour group. So we found him and got him in that evening. All the boys were waiting for a team meeting to begin.
"There was a sideshow to this. Geoff was AB's vice-captain and when the selectors dropped him, AB refused to board the plane to Perth for the Test against India until he was reinstated. So Swampy figured AB's loyalty would win out. Steve related our previous conversations to AB.
"Jesus Christ, I back Warney every time," AB said. "The situation is made for him. Anyway, we owe him. Think of what he's done for Australian cricket. We need to show faith." I thought, 'That should do it.'
"Then Steve said, "No, I appreciate your thoughts, AB, but Warney's not playing. I'm going with my gut here. Sorry, guys.
"Disappointed is not a strong enough word. When the crunch came Tugga didn't support me, and I felt so totally let down by someone who I had supported big time and was also a good friend."
Warne believes this was the moment that caused an irreparable divide between the two champion players.
"I lost a bit of respect for him after that," Warne writes. "I believe he should have backed me - as I always believe the art of captaincy is to support your players and back them every time.
"This gains the respect from the players and makes them play for you. He didn't, it's history, but I never found it easy with him after that."
The champion leg-spinner then pointed to Waugh's return from injury as another example of putting his own interests ahead of the teams.
Waugh was making his way back from a horror collision with Jason Gillespie and was adamant he would be right to return.
"We were one down in a three-match series and at the selection meeting for the second Test, Steve, who was up and about now, said he should play," Warne writes.
"I'm not sure you're right," I told him. "You've just had this dangerous collision - take it easy, mate."
"No way," he said, "I'll field in a helmet."
I said, "You can't field in a helmet." Geoff Marsh said the same.
"I admit there was an element of bitterness in my attitude to Steve after what happened in Antigua. Equally, it's my honest belief that you can't field a whole Test match in a helmet, even in the gully.
"As the conversation went on I got more and more facetious about it. I'd even say I was being a dickhead and looking for a bit of revenge. He hadn't backed me and now I wasn't going to back him.
"I have to emphasise that my attitude had nothing to do with me wanting to be captain. It was all about him not playing. Someone else could have captained, I wouldn't have given a shit.
"Steve Waugh was the most selfish player I ever played with and was only worried about averaging 50. It was about a lack of loyalty. Pretty childish, I know, but that's the way it was."
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