he legend of Steve Waugh has endured with the passage of time. The former Australia captain and batsman remains a respected figure in cricket, greatly valued for his understanding of the game as well as the many charities he works for around the world. Waugh is also a Laureus Academy member and is involved in Laureus Foundation’s projects in different countries. Waugh spoke to a group of Indian journalists here on Monday, just ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony. Excerpts from the interview:
How do you see Australia’s early exit from the World T20 recently?
I was in India for about 10 days during the World T20 and I saw the fanaticism of the people about the event in and around the stadiums. But I see Australia losing early in a good way as it’s probably the only country which puts Test cricket on a pedestal and because of that its T20 cricket has suffered. You have to give credit to Cricket Australia for the way it has tried to protect Test cricket when most other countries have not been doing. We probably got what we deserved in World T20 but we haven’t prepared that well because the focus in Australia has been on Tests.
Do you think it’s possible for a team to strike a balance between the three formats – Tests, One-day and T20?
It’s almost impossible to strike a balance between the three formats as you have three different teams, three different captains… it’s overlapping all the time. It’s unrealistic to expect that one team can be number one in all three formats.
Which team you think has come closest to achieving that balance?
Australia, I think. We’re No. 1 in both Tests and One-dayers and are not too much behind in T20s too. India and England are other countries which have doing well on this front. But if you look at a team like West Indies… they are fantastic in T20, and the young kids see that they make a lot of money but the intent of becoming a great Test player is not as strong in them as it’s in Australian players.
It’s exactly 15 years since that epic series you played in India in 2001 which was so close but you lost 2-1. How would you recall that series?
I’m proud of the way the series was played. It was probably the first time Australia played a series in India to win it. We played aggressive cricket and we would probably have gone on to win 3-0 if we had managed to take that one wicket on the fourth day in Kolkata. We were beaten by two of the greatest innings I’ve even seen in my career (by VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid in Kolkata). The more important thing for Australia, though, was the way we played the series because the next time we went to India, we managed to win the series.
Any regrets about that series?
There are no regrets as life is a learning process. We could have probably done better but that’s how it is. I thought I should have batted higher up the order in One-day cricket for Australia. But for the first 10 years of my career, I used to come at number five or six with only a few overs left and I needed to hit every ball. I thought I didn’t fulfil my potential as a One-day batsman.
our thoughts on Virat Kohli…
Kohli is the best batsman in the world, I’ve said that 18 months back. He watches the ball so well under his eyes, has great concentration and match awareness, has all the shots and has fire in the belly. He embraces the challenge that comes with the expectations of 1.3 billion people. One thing he probably needs to control is his excitement sometimes. Like in the WT20 semi-final, he almost gave his wicket away twice in three balls. He was a bit out of control in that game. And when he is like that, the rest of the side become skiddish as well. So, he needs to control his emotions. He is still young. He is a great player and will challenge Sachin’s records.
Can you tell us about the activities of the Laureus Foundation?
The Laureus Academy has 56 members including three from India – Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. We have basically two roles – one is judge the awards and the other is the work of the Foundation which is the crux of what we do here.
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