A HISTORY OF BANKSTOWN PLAYERS : Mick’s Musings
Mark Edward Waugh is recognised as one of the most elegant and entertaining willow wielders in the history of the game. However the flair and style hid a steely determination which got Australia out of trouble many, many times. Mark was always in the action as a remarkable fieldsman or probing offspinner. This led to his jocular name of Harbajan Waugh. Cruelly another nickname was Afghanistan as the forgotten War. However he was mainly known as Junior given that he was the younger of the twins. A lot of players don’t return to their clubs when their first class career is over. This could not be said for Mark who proved a True Blue Bulldog. Not only did he play on for Bankstown but he captained the First Grade side. His extraordinary captaincy was a great boost to the team especially to the younger players. Not surprisingly Mark was an aggressive skipper The side had a tearaway paceman in Hilal Dannoui who suffered badly with dropped catches. One particular day at Memorial Hilal was asked how he had fared. His retort was that I got the edge and the best fieldsman put it down ........Mark Waugh. Junior has a record that will more than likely never be beaten. He took a hat-track in Poidevin—Gray with his lively medium pacers. All his victims were clean bowled. John Bull asked Mick Stephenson who he thought was the better of the Waugh twins. Stepho captained both of them in their early days and said he could not split them. Pressed further the nod was given to Mark. Several years later Mark was dropped from the N.S.W. side whilst Steve debuted for the Aussie side and Bully rubbed it in.
There is a photo of Mark and Steve running between the wickets and somebody asked Mark who hit the ball. He quickly replied if you can work out who is running the faster he would have been the striker. His love of the punt could have started as a youngster at Bankstown trots and the fact his grandfather Edward was a greyhound trainer. Mark is married to Kim Waugh and with his love of racing it seems appropriate as she is a very well credentialed trainer. Kim’s outstanding success came with the Sydney Cup winner Mahtoum who ran sixth in the Melbourne Cup. At Newcastle Junior’s horse the well named Umpire Bird was racing in the last race of a two day carnival. Just about every winner had come from on pace runners. Mick Stepho asked Mark if the steed would be up amongst the leaders. The reply was that it is not a leader but he and Kim were hoping that the others would go helter skelter in front. This would allow the Bird to come swooping down the outside and that is exactly what happened. It gave Stepho a very rare Trifecta worth around 1200 dollars and he was ever grateful for the sage advice. Mark was the youngest player to be selected in the N.S.W. Primary school soccer side. He was also captain of the N.S.W. Schools cricket and tennis sides, a born leader.
In England he played cricket in the Bolton League, Lancashire and all at that Club admired his talent and charisma. The captain was so impressed with his 1460 runs plus 75 wickets that being a dentist he gave Junior free treatment!! In the record breaking stand for NSW vs West Australia the twins hammered 464 in just 407 minutes with both scoring double centuries. Greg Mathews was next in to bat and said he would not take his pads off until a wicket fell. Well they were both not out at the end of play and Greg dutifully went out on the town fully padded up. It caused great amusement for everybody. Mark made big hitting look easy and at the SCG smashed a six from Warney’s mentor Peter Sleep which went within a whisker of hitting the face of the clock tower. Against Sri Lanka he notched four ducks in a row and was told just one more and he would have been called Olympic Rings. Wayne Holdsworth smashed 50 off just 19 balls and bragged about his batting prowess. Mark just laughed and said well played Cracker you would be an allrounder if you could bowl.
Mark and Mick Stepho still hold the record for a third grade fifth wicket stand of 201 unfinished. Both scored centuries and it was played at the appropriately named Cook Park which was a 42 degree cauldron. Mick wilted in the heat and potential threes were reduced to singles. It was later claimed by Mark he probably would have scored 200 if Stepho could have run between wickets properly. The latter retaliated via the Torch when he said Mark learned an important lesson that day “Its no good being a hare between wickets if you have a tortoise at the other end”. First grade skipper Bob Vidler said the elegant strokemaker timed the ball better than anyone he had ever seen. In 1989-90 Mark went on an extraordinary run spree. He amassed 967 for N.S.W. at the stunning average of 80 with five centuries. He bettered that for Essex when he plundered no less than 8 majestic triple figures. His domination of bowlers was highlighted by the fact he became the first batsman to score back to back centuries in the World Cup. It was 1996 where he also had a 207 run stand with brother Steve. Mark hit another century which was vs New Zealand.
He only claimed five wickets but one was an absolute classic. It was that of the legendary Indian Sachin Tendulkar. Mark was trundling away with his offies when suddenly the batsman charged down the pitch. Junior cleverly bowled out of Sachin’s reach and the great man was stumped off a wide. It was a crucial wicket as the Indian side was threatening danger. In the Maitland 10 over comp Mark plundered six after six. Spectators including Fred Anderson took refuge in the nearby bowling club. A couple of sixes thumped onto the Club roof and Fred said Good Heavens it’s raining sixes. Mark’s wife Kim had a memorable win in the Sydney Cup with Mahtoum and she has the Mahtoum Lodge as a permanent memory.It ran sixth in the Melbourne Cup which was an excellent run. Mark has an allergy to horses and takes injections regularly and it is so ironic he is married to a horse trainer. The pair got married shortly after Mahtoum won the Sydney Cup so it was an exciting couple of weeks. Mark was keen in all facets of the game and has now added commentary to the list. He was a selector for years but gave it away to concentrate on his commentary with Foxtel.
His fielding was legendary and he claimed 181 catches in Tests and 108 in one dayers.Shane Warne was one of the main beneficiaries of his ultra safe hands and acrobatics. One example of this was when he caught Inzamam-up -Haq in Hobart. Mark dived and flung his arm sideways and behind from a savage cut shot and Warney was ecstatic. One catch in the 1999 World Cup was a camera man’s dream as Junior was parallel to the ground. Some of the headlines re Mark and Steve include Waugh gives bowlers no Peace, The Day Junior Became Senior, Waugh Lord, Oh What a Lovely Waugh, Star Waughs, Waugh Zone,Fortunes of Waugh. The Bulldogs loved the most appropriate ‘Dogs of Waugh and Mark called his column in the Torch Waugh of Words!!
From the time Mark started to make a name for himself comparisons were made with the very dapper Keith Miller. They were both dashing and aggressive characters with a laid back attitude which belied their intensity. Their fastidious attitude to their appearance (Miller was the Brylcreem man) love of the punt and air of nonchalance exacerbated the similarities. Some say Miller was the better bowler and Waugh the better fieldsman but it was never dull when they were around. Offspinner Bruce Urry was also a lover of the punt and coerced Mark into bowling spin. Junior complained to him that the offies he bowled did not spin much. Bruce told him he only needed to spin enough to catch the edge. He said it’s a bit like the punt a nose is enough to collect the bikkies. Mark was a humanitarian and did much to help the wayward kids of Calcutta.