Former Australian captain Steve Waugh has opened up on the decision which sparked a feud with former teammate Shane Warne that has lasted over two decades.
Warne and Waugh famously have one of the longest standing feuds in Australian cricket, sparked by the then-captain’s decision to drop his star spinner in his first series as Test captain.
With Australia in a 2-1 hole after Brian Lara’s magical unbeaten 153 in Barbados, Waugh’s men needed to win the final Test of the series to retain the Frank Worrell Trophy.
Lara and the West Indies’ assortment of left-handers had taken to Warne in the first three matches of the series, with the spin king claiming just two wickets at a paltry average of 134.
Waugh decided he would only play one wrist-spinner in the decider, with Stuart MacGill given the nod over Warne and off-spinner Colin Miller picked as the second spinner.
MacGill and Miller would combine for eight wickets as Australia tied up the series and retained the trophy with a 176-run win in the fourth Test, but the decision proved to be one Warne would not soon forget.
Waugh has remained tight-lipped on the feud between he and Warne, with the spinner doing the majority of the public sparring, but he defended the decision to drop Warne in 1999.
“It was my first tour as captain to West Indies. As a captain, you are expected to make difficult decisions. That’s why you are given the job. You are not there to please everyone,” Waugh told Sky Sports Cricket.
“I always wanted to be loyal to be my players to a certain point, but at the end of the day, you gotta be loyal to the team and their performance.
“Back in those days, when you are on tour, the two players and the coach picked the team, the selectors didn’t have anything to do with it.
“I found it strange, because you had selectors picking teams for series at home, but on away tours it was up to the captain to basically make the decision.
“Warnie had just come back from a shoulder surgery. I think he was put back into the team too quickly. We had both Stuart MacGill and him in the previous Test, turning the ball the same way. Lara, and all the left-handers were hitting with the spin, and I just thought it was the right decision.
“I didn’t consult too many players. I think, when you consult too many people, as a captain, you get confused. At the end of the day, you are there to make the decision, it was a tough one, of course.”
Waugh’s comments come after his predecessor, Mark Taylor, said that the skipper had erred in his decision to leave Warne out of the deciding Test.
“At the time, no [it wasn’t the right call]. I didn’t think it was,” Taylor told Nine’s Sports Sunday.
“I felt that if you had to make a decision between the two leggies, which I think Australia had to do at that stage because Lara was playing so well, I’d have gone with the guy that’s been great for so long, even though he wasn’t at his best.
“In a must-win game, I would have gone with Shane Warne.”