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Steve felt betrayed by Aussie drinking culture
- Former Captain spills beans on 1999 WI tour

Sydney: Former Australian captain Steve Waugh said he felt betrayed by a drinking culture and let down by his brother Mark and Ian Healy on his first tour in charge of the Australian team.

Waugh takes aims at several high-profile Australian cricket figures, including Shane Warne and Ian Cappell in his autobiography, Out of My Comfort Zone, which was officially launched by Prime Minister John Howard on Sunday.

Waugh, who retired as skipper in January last year after 168 Test matches and 10,927 runs, wrote about events on the 1999 tour to the Caribbean.

“What I saw as a drinking culture was affecting more members of the squad than I had initially thought,” the Australian great said.

“We were tending to socialise in the same groups (and) that had unhinged what should have been the joker in our pack: togetherness.

“As captain, I felt slightly let down by my most senior professional, Ian Healy, who was struggling to come to terms with the approaching end of his career and for the first time in his cricket life had let his discipline and work ethic slide.

“Mark had an average tour and didn’t get involved enough in the running of the team, while some younger guys followed the leads and erroneous ways of others. I felt betrayed when later I discovered that secret pacts had been made by some of the guys to stay out past curfew.”

Waugh also opened up on Warne when he was dropped for fellow leg-spinner Stuart MacGill in the fourth Antigua Test on that tour.

“Shane knew his spot was up for debate and I had flagged it to him the day before, but I knew he’d be desperate for one more chance,” said Waugh, who chose the team with coach Geoff Marsh, vice-captain Warne and Allan Border.

“Warney put up an emotional argument that included some very valid points, but when it came to summing it all up, AB (Border) agreed the tough call had to be made.”

Waugh praised the way Warne handled his demotion. “I kept asking myself ‘what team is going to give us our best chance of winning'’ to me Shane wasn’t in the starting XI.”

Waugh also had a shot at who he regards as his constant critic, former Test skipper and prominent TV commentator Chappell.

“Ian Chappell has always sweated on my blunders and reported them with an ‘I told you so’ mentality. He labelled me ‘selfish’ which for a cricketer is tantamount to being accused of treason.

“To say Chappell’s criticism irked me would be an understatement, but I knew he was entitled to his opinion. But I have always felt that a critic must be either constructive or base his comments on fact.” (AFP)

 

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