Why Steve Waugh learnt the reverse sweep at the age of 50
Former Australian skipper Steve Waugh was at a suburban cricket ground in Sydney yesterday, teaching youngsters the nuances of the ‘reverse sweep’ before going on to explain how useful the shot was in modern day cricket.
The Steve Waugh Cricket coaching clinics that are conducted throughout the city of Sydney and the regional areas elevate young cricketers through training and practice. "At one of the first clinics we ran a young coach was showing the kids how to play the reverse sweep and I said 'mate, do you mind teaching me first? I haven't played one' and I ended up playing the reverse sweep and found that I really enjoyed it," Waugh said about his first brush with the unorthodox shot.
Introduced in cricket back in the 1970s by Pakistani batsman Mushtaq Mohammad, the reverse sweep symbolises the ‘bastardisation of cricket’ according to purists in the modern day Twenty20 tournaments including the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Australian Big Bash League.
At 50, Waugh is happy to teach the shot, considered as one among the most attacking ones in modern day cricket, as he hopes to ‘ramp’ once he masters it. The former Aussie skipper who scored 32 test centuries expressed that he would have loved to play in the ongoing Big Bash league, where unorthodox batting is the norm.
"I would've loved to have played Twenty20. It's exciting watching the game develop and it seems there's a new shot being played in every game. I think it's a format that really tests a batsman out but if you're good enough you can play all the shots. I think as long as you practise it, a reverse sweep is no more dangerous than a cut shot," Waugh said.
Nic Maddinson, stand in skipper of Sydney Sixers in the ongoing Big Bash League was severely criticised by cricket experts throughout the country when he attempted to play a reverse sweep against Adelaide Strikers’ spinner Adil Rashid but instead got out scoring a golden duck. Waugh defended the player saying, "It's old school thinking. These guys practise and if you practise any shot you can play it well. At the end of the day it's about getting your technique right and you need technique to play the reverse sweep - you can't just pull it out of the cupboard and expect to hit it if you don't know what you're doing. If you know what you're doing - because you've practised - I'm all for it, do it.”
The former Australian skipper expressed his plans for opening specialised clinics focusing on Twenty20 cricket. "We've talked about developing some of these clinics specifically for Twenty20. The game has changed so much you need to be up-to-date; you need to teach kids how to play the shots that they're seeing and to also do things like bowl slower-ball bumpers and how to think differently at the end of a game (during the 'death' overs),” he said.