A HISTORY OF BANKSTOWN PLAYERS : Mick’s Musings
Steve Rodger Waugh O.A (Order of Australia) was born on 2nd of June 1985 at Canterbury hospital just four minutes before brother Mark. That is why the latter was called Junior and faced the second delivery.
Steve was always ready to play for Bankstown when representing if it meant just for half a game. Not many other Test players did the same His parents Rodger and Bev were very good at sport and had the twins playing organised competition from the age of six. The youngsters’ pedigree was impeccable with Rodger very competitive against Tony Roche and John Newcombe. He won the under 14 Tennis championship whilst Bev also won her under 14s title. Bev became a champion squash player and helped teach youngsters with disabilities to swim. Her brother Dion Bourne captained Bankstown’s first grade cricket team for years. He was the Bulldogs leading rungetter for many seasons and was rewarded with a Life Membership for all his input and memorable deeds. When the Twins were 13 Bev asked Dion to run his eye over them. That did not take long as he said to Bev just let them be they are naturals. It was no surprise that all four brothers including the younger Danny and Dean all captained Bulldogs first grade. They could bowl too but they certainly did not get that from their uncle. He was used to giving other team’s easy quick runs to expedite a declaration. Dion’s donkey drops certainly livened up the game.
During his international career Steve scored 35 centuries. He was considered amongst the best of captains and his record speaks for itself. The true-blue Bulldog led his team to 41 victories from the 57 games under his captaincy. Steve was the most capped player in Test history with 168 until Tendulkar broke this record in 2010. In his final year at school he captained the State soccer team. It is interesting that when Steve debuted for N.S.W. He batted number 9 and bowled medium pace. He perfected the slower ball in the Australia one day game which was a gem and soon copied. In a Test versus Pakistan at Rawalpindi Steve weathered a very hostile pace barrage from the dreaded duo of Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram. Steve eventually fell when a bouncer struck his body and rolled onto the stumps. In the 1997 tour of Sth Africa he really blossomed and averaged 78. He plundered 160 in the First Test in Joburg. With Greg Blewett he compiled a 385-run stand. The pair batted the whole of the third day to set up an innings victory. Blewett said that Steve kept talking encouraging him to concentrate and not throw his innings away.
As we know Steve and Mark did not really look like each other. People thought Steve looked like his Mum with his round face and Mark more like his Dad. She also became a champion squash player. One day whilst playing squash Bev was amazed to hear a woman describe herself as the Mum of the Waugh Twins which Bev found quite hilarious. Because of their love of sport the parents got Mark and Steve involved in organised sport at the ripe old age of six. The kids played tennis, soccer and cricket. It was an inauspicious debut with the willow as both scored ducks. Steve had the honour of scoring a century in all grades for Bankstown.
When he played third grade he was not out at tea and the rival skipper wanted to know his name and thought he looked good. The Bulldogs Mick Stepho was asked if he was going to declare and he said no he wanted to watch the youngster bat. The opposing captain said he thought the young Waugh’s weakness was on the leg side and he would concentrate on that. Stepho was chuckling at that cos he knew the youngster was very strong on the leg side. In the ultimate irony Steve smashed the ball repeatedly through the onside. Then in desperation when the captain brought himself on he was blasted out of the park on the leg side of course!! As he wended his way to First grade Bankstown played Gordon when the orange ball was given a trial. Steve Smith the Aussie opener got a first ball duck and declared it a failure however Steve Waugh scored a wonderful century and declared the trial a resounding success. The shrewdest of all cricket connoisseurs Bulldog Gary Crowfoot summed up Tugga’s 84-85 season as sensational. Steve scored 500 runs by Xmas and claimed 27 wickets In a truly amazing performance. Rule changes enabled guys playing reps to be replaced even for half a game but it had to be by a similar player as in like for like. Brian Freedman argued that was very interesting because there was nobody like Tugga who could open the bowling and bat high up.
Steve forced his way into the Blues and helped win the Sheffield Shield with 71 in the final. He was a worthy recipient of the valued Esso Scholarship.When playing for N.S.W. early on in his career his room mate was Imran Khan and Steve said he learned as much about life as he did about cricket. One thing was stressed by the Pakistan allrounder and that was to always help the underprivileged. Steve certainly did that and was instrumental in raising funds for a women’s hospital in India. Khan of course became Prime Minister of Pakistan. Steve was chosen as the Combined High Schools Sportsperson of the year in 1984 and selected in the Australian under 19 side. He thumped 187 against Sri Lanka which turned the game around. He was involved in a record partnership with Phil Amson in Fourth Grade. Tugga plundered 118 not out and Phil 109 not out in the 224 run stand as Bankstown amassed 305. That would normally be enough for an easy win but their opponents also scored 305 for an amazing tie!!
Legendary Bill O’Reilly pushed hard for Stephen to go on an Ashes tour as a very young man in 1985. Although a difficult person to impress Tiger was an unabashed Steve Waugh fan. His quote in the Sydney Morning Herald was a classic. “Waugh is the future of Australian Cricket and I implore the selectors to give the young man a chance. Strangely enough Steve seems to be ploughing his way through some sort of graduation course. His amazing ball sense and timing are there for all to see plus his incredible versatility” Tiger mentioned that Bradman was a youngster when he went to England and scored 309 in the Leeds Test.The selectors did not feel the same about Waugh but the great leggie certainly had the last laugh as Steve’s stellar career unfolded.
There was a memorable first grade game versus the Fairfield Lions which is part of Bulldogs cricket folk lore. It got to the stage where Steve Waugh declared and left what seemed to be a reasonably easy target. The mutterings of discontent at the meagre total required were swooped on by Tugga. He pointed to the door and said anybody who thinks we can’t win should leave straight away as we only want positive players. All stayed together and out they went onto Fairfield Park with Steve and Mark fielding at silly mid on and silly mid off. Scott Thompson ripped into the Lions whose roar was more like a whimper. He produced his best ever figures of 8-29 and the Bulldogs were home. Tugga flirted with a soccer deal for Croatia but sensibly stuck with his cricket. He played in the forwards whilst Mark was a defender.
Steve certainly could give the golf ball a nudge and was exceptional off the tee. Whilst taking a break on an Ashes tour he stunned all with a massive drive at the Belfry course. He hammered one which fell just short of the longest drive ever there. Slightly beyond was a plaque crediting the great Seve Ballesteros with that shot. For Tugga to get so close to the champion was amazing. Not bad for a cricketer. Steve Waugh’s one perfect day describes his century against England at the S.C.G. Those who were there will certainly never forget it. He posted the coveted triple figures from the last ball of the day.
Amongst the Barmy Army it was intriguing to hear the comments. One wit said Steve was a magnificent player ...Almost good enough to play for Yorkshire. Another said on Steve’s proposed retirement. We will take Tugga give him an English passport and a knighthood and he can captain us for years. When it was just about time for Lynette to give birth to Austin, Steve had to rush off to the hospital. He quipped ...This is one delivery I must not miss!! When Steve was about to retire, son Austin was very upset. Lynette was relieved when the youngster said that he thought his Dad would not be allowed to play in the backyard.
Austin is a very talented young cricketer and at the age of 19 looks the goods. He claimed the crucial wicket of David Warner and of course the media were all over it. He seems a level headed young man which should stand him in good stead. Tugga never forgot the advice given him by Imran Khan about helping the underprivileged.
He started the Steve Waugh Foundation and raised money to build a hospital for female lepers in India. From that he concentrated on those with very rare diseases who have nobody to help them. Lately to raise money for this cause he has developed the Captain’s Ride. It is a 920 km cycling ride from Sydney to Byron Bay. A good deal of the drive behind this and many other Waugh causes comes from Lynette who has been an amazing inspiration. Steve says Lynette is mentally the toughest person he knows. She has worked tirelessly despite suffering a stroke in 2006. The latter was a family ordeal that Waugh says made them all re-assess their values. In 2004 Stephen was named Australian of the Year with his philanthropic work a major factor.
The Bankstown Bulldog came of age in the 1987 World Cup. He scored many runs and in one game he bowled seven overs for a meagre six runs. Against NZ the Kiwis needed 7 runs off the last over. Steve restricted them to just three. In the final against England he got rid of Allan Lamb and Phil De Freitas in the 47th and 49th overs. This enabled the Aussies to win by seven runs and clinch their first World Cup. From there he was confirmed as the “The Iceman” a most appropriate nickname. His century Test Match drought turned into a flood with an Ashes run spree in 1989. In the first Test he scored 177 not out and in the Second an unconquered 152. He finished with 506 runs at the superb average of 126.5. The youngster certainly got the monkey off his back and quipped it was getting more like King Kong!!
Stephen captained Australia from 1999-2004 and was instrumental in winning the 1999 World Cup. Tugga saved Australia in that World Cup semi vs Sth Africa. He popped up an easy catch to Herschelle Gibbs who unaccountably spilled it. Steve was reported as saying Herschelle you have just dropped the World Cup!!The top quality allrounder captained his country for 15 of their 16 record breaking consecutive victories. Steve scored 200 against the West Indies and was peppered relentlessly by the quicks. His confrontation with Curtly Ambrose is still talked about. One wit said he scored 200 and that is how many bruises he received. Tugga was black and blue all over his battered body.
Waugh has received many accolades but a lot of people do not know he is listed as one of a hundred Australian Living Treasures by the National Trust of Australia. Steve was also awarded the Australian Sports Medal and the Order of Australia. He was inducted as the 30th cricketer into the Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2005 Stephen was Australia’s Father of the Year a very well deserved honour.
His 200 against the West Indies came against the might of Curtly Ambrose and his 207 run partnership with Mark in that series proved decisive. Not bad for the humble lad from Panania. The diaries of Tugga and his newspaper columns were very successful. In what was somewhat of a rarity he wrote all the columns himself. No ghost writer for the Bulldog boy. All through his career Steve Waugh was renowned for his determination and never say die attitude. That is highlighted by the fact that he scored 150 plus against every Test playing nation.
Several times he was invited by the Australian Labor Party to join them but he declined their overtures. Steve and his wife Lynette have three children Rosalie, Lillian and Austin. Lynette was his childhood sweetheart from schooldays and is by far and away his best partnership!!
Along with Mike Horn Tugga has another quest to achieve. It’s to play a game of cricket on an iceberg in Greenland. He quipped they had better not leave too much food out for lunch; I guess because the polar bears might eat it. His red handkerchief became famous and it was great to see thousands of them at his farewell Test. Stephen Rodger Waugh played his first and last Test against India and after the latter his teammates honoured him with a lap of honour around his beloved SCG.