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Steve Waugh - The Man O' War

A write about what made Steve Waugh one of the most mentally tough characters in the game.

Steve Waugh – Down but never out

They don’t make them as tough as Stephen Rodger Waugh. Called by many names such as Tugga, Iceman, Man o' War by his team mates, the elder of the Waugh twins could chew bones if he were asked to do so by his team. He was the type of character you would want beside you in a tough battle.

A classic embodiment of the ultimate evolved cricketer. Steve Waugh’s cricket is a tale of grit, strength and rising up to the challenge whenever it matters the most. A genuine leader of the pack, Steve Waugh led from the front. One of the best players and captains the game ever saw. A modern legend by every sense of the word.

Not so humble beginnings

The tale of the Waugh is beautiful but not all rosy – his career is laced with numerous instances where he could have easily been sidelined and eventually erased from the cricketing world. He faced the music during his maiden tour of the Caribbean – he has tasted Ashes series defeat.

Initially tagged as “a moderately talented player" with nothing special about him. His younger sibling Mark Waugh was seen as a better replacement and Mark eventually ended up replacing Steve.

The Iceman

Stave Waugh played a pivotal role in the 1987 ICC CWC as he scored 167 runs at 55.66 and took 11 wickets at 26.18 and ensured Australia’s maiden World Cup triumph, which earned him the nickname “Iceman”. Leading Australia to its second World Cup win, consecutive victories in fifteen Test matches – these are just few of the many arrows in this great player’s quiver of achievements.

The ice cool batsmen gave us many interesting on-field tussles to remember, most notably his encounters with Allan Donald, with Curtly Ambrose in the Caribbean in 1995. Waugh relished the challenge of Test cricket and put an immesne price on his wicket. He would sweat, he would bleed but never throw his wicket away.

This comes as no surprise that he made the most centuries (29) from the period of Jan 1 1993 to Jan 6 2004 – even surpassing the great Sachin Tendulkar(28).

Here are the figures from his international career:

Batting
  Matches  Innings  Runs  Average Strike Rate 100s 50s Highest Score Not Outs
Test Matches  168 260 10927 51.06 48.64 32 50 200 46
ODIs 325 288 7569 32.90 75.91 3 45 120 not out 58
Bowling
  Matches  Innings  Wickets  Economy 4w  5w Ball Bowled  Strike Rate Best Bowling Performance
Test Matches  168 260 92 2.64 4 3 7805 84.8 169 /8
ODIs 325 288 195 4.56 3 0 8883 45.5 33 /4
 

The Man-O War

 As they say, the mark of a great champion is how he rises to face the music once the chips are down. Steve Waugh defied the initial stereotype that was imposed on him and is widely acclaimed as one of the leading batsmen of his era.

The perfect fifth bowler and arguably one of the most mentally tough characters in the game. So naturally, Waugh was describes as a “Cold Blooded, Scientific Leader” by The Times. It is believed that the Australian skipper didn’t just wanted to defeat the opposition but wanted to decimate and bury them under the ground.  "Waugh wants to defeat you personally" was often remarked during his playing days. Here is the captaincy record this champion has.

Captaincy Record
  Matches  Innings  Runs  Average 100s 50s Highest Score MoM MoS
Test Matches  57 83 3714 52.30 15 10 199 4 0
ODIs 106 89 2585 34.93 2 16 120 not out 5 0

The meanest, the toughest

Steve Waugh would rather die fighting on the field than be on the sidelines and enjoy the comforts of the dressing room. Like Adam Gilchrist says – “He wouldn’t ask you to do something if he wasn’t prepared to do it”

Waugh has always made a statement regarding how big an honour it is to represent the baggy green. To get out there and fight it out till the very end. It is not just about a single victory, it is about sending a message loud and clear, the “in your face” brand of cricket that the Australians play.Here is a particular example of what eventually came to be known as “Steve Waugh’s ton of Pain”.

In 2001, Steve Waugh got injured during the third Ashes Test at Trent Bridge. Though the Aussies ended up winning the match and ensuring Ashes victory, he injured his calf muscle. The English came back strongly and won the fourth Test.

This did not go well with Tugga and he wanted to throw the gauntlet back to the English team .He spent most of his waking hours with physio Errol Alcott to aid his fitness bid, but could still barely run. Although the last Test match at The Oval was a dead rubber, Steve at this point was hardly in a position to stand. This didn't stop him making 157 not out as he defied his injury to score the spectacular century with a sprinted single which he even had to complete with a dive.

All this came at a cost as Waugh developed a blood clot on the flight home, and had to undergo treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis. Sometimes when a player is so passionate about the game it becomes hard to draw the line between bravery and plain madness. But one thing is for sure that Steve Waugh has always pushed the enveloped in cricket be it Test Matches or ODI, be it as an individual player or as the appointed captain.

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