Steve Waugh has responded after Shane Warne branded him as the “most selfish” player he ever played with. Picture: Getty
Steve Waugh has responded after Shane Warne branded him as the “most selfish” player he ever played with. Picture: Getty

Waugh fires back at Warne serve

STEVE Waugh has responded to criticism from Shane Warne that branded him as the "most selfish" player he ever played with.

Warne hit out at Waugh in his book No Spin, suggesting the former Australian captain was only concerned with keeping his average above 50.

Waugh initially brushed off the criticism on Thursday before saying he "didn't need to justify anything" he did as captain.

Speaking to ABC's News Breakfast, he said: "I'm responding (to Warne) by not responding because I don't think it needs a response."

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 recovering from shoulder surgery and was also vice-captain.

The incident was the tipping point in their relationship, Warne recalled.

Waugh on Thursday initially brushed off the criticism before saying he “didn’t need to justify anything” he did as captain.
Waugh on Thursday initially brushed off the criticism before saying he “didn’t need to justify anything” he did as captain.

Speaking on Thursday of the same moment, Waugh said: "I had to make a decision as a captain and as a leader.

"Unfortunately, I didn't want to make that decision but I did it for the benefit of the team. You've got to have loyalty to a certain degree but you can't have blind loyalty. I guess that's what Shane expected on that occasion.

"I had to make a decision. I got on fine with Shane we had a great relationship. As a leader you're put in a tough position sometimes but that's why you're a leader.'

Waugh added that work with his foundation for children and young adults with rare diseases helped "put things in perspective".

"That's what's important to me. Not what someone says about something that happened 20 years ago"

In his book, Warne detailed the day their already fractured relationship broke down.

Warne, who was Waugh's deputy during the 1999 tour of the West Indies, was struggling with the ball after coming back from a shoulder operation.

Windies legend Brian Lara had made short work of the stocky leggie as the home side rocketed to a 2-1 lead.

It wasn’t always sunshine and butterflies for the legendary pair.
It wasn’t always sunshine and butterflies for the legendary pair.

Waugh thought Warne should be dropped from the side for the next Test as the tourists tried to salvage a series draw.

"I was vice-captain and bowling pretty ordinary and Tugga (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,'" Warne wrote.

"'I think Warney should play, mate," said Geoff.

"'Well, I'm captain and I don't agree,' said Steve. Silence.

"Swampy (Marsh) 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.

"'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.'

"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 said he lost "a bit of respect" for Waugh after the encounter

"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," he said.

"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."

It's safe to say most Aussie sports fans will agree the iconic baggy green is more sacred than the crown jewels.

The famous dark green cap - handed out to just 455 men in over 140 years of the sport - goes hand-in-hand with most great Test cricketing stories.

If you ever needed reminding of the importance placed on a piece of fabric, take a look at the miniature ceremony, accompanied by a speech from a former player, held each and every time a player makes their debut.

Tales of current Australian coach Justin Langer sleeping with his prized cap sit atop the pile of bizarre baggy green worship stories.

But Shane Warne simply couldn't give a damn about all that pomp.

Shane Warne didn’t understand the Baggy Green obsession.
Shane Warne didn’t understand the Baggy Green obsession.

Speaking on BBC Radio on Thursday night, the 145-Test star shredded his former teammates' obsession with the cap.

While saying he always valued playing for Australia, the former leg spinner stressed that what you wore on your head had nothing to do with how much you loved performing for your country.

"I was embarrassed about some of the verbal diarrhoea that came out about the baggy green cap. I believed you didn't need a baggy green cap to say that you loved playing cricket for Australia," Warne said.

"Myself and Mark Waugh loved wearing a white floppy hat, it helped with sun protection and it felt more comfortable on our head. The green baggy was too tight, we didn't like the look of it on our heads."

Warne said Steve Waugh's obsession with the cap became "the ultimate embarrassment" when he decided the team should all wear it while supporting Pat Rafter in a match at Wimbledon in 2001.

"We went to watch Pat Rafter at Wimbledon - and he wanted the whole team to wear it. And I looked at Mark Waugh and he said 'I am not wearing that,'" Warne said.

"So the guys (who) idolised Steve Waugh, Langer, Hayden, Gilchrist, those type of guys, all wore the baggy green cap to Wimbledon," Warne scorned.

"It makes me puke to think that these grown men wore green baggy caps to Wimbledon! So I refused.

"Looking back at some of those photos ... it was embarrassing to watch."

Taking a look back at Warne's career in photographs, it's tough to find an image of the nation's leading wicket-taker taking the field without his floppy.



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