The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Steve Waugh: It’s not a good standard to set for kids
- Aussie captain feels incidents like the McGrath-Sarwan altercation should not be repeated

St John’s: Australia captain Steve Waugh admitted on Tuesday his team were ruffled during a heated exchange on the fourth day of the final Test with the West Indies on Monday.

Trouble flared in a finger-pointing incident between fast bowler Glenn McGrath and West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan.

“It wasn’t pretty, we would like these things not to happen. We got ruffled yesterday and we lost our composure,” Waugh said after the home team’s record-breaking win deprived Australia of an unprecedented Caribbean whitewash.

He said: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with exchanging a few words on the field. But we know it’s going to be replayed 10 or 20 times. It’s going to be seen over and over again and kids are going to see it as well.”

Referring to McGrath’s furious reaction to a possible Sarwan jibe, Waugh said: “He (McGrath) probably misinterpreted it.

“Ramnaresh Sarwan hasn’t got a mean bone in his body, he’s a great guy. It’s a moment all the players regret, we wish it hadn’t happened but it did.”

Australian media reports said Sarwan had made a personal comment to McGrath which upset the 33-year-old fast bowler.

Match referee Mike Procter said the two players had cleared the air afterwards and no action would be taken.

“It got pretty serious out there for a time. Fortunately, (umpire) Dave Shepherd stepped in at the right time.”

However, Aussie PM John Howard, a die-hard cricket fan, said he understood McGrath’s reaction, and that it was “a very natural Australian thing to do”.

While admitting he didn’t know the exact sequence of events, Howard told a Melbourne radio station: “Well, I’ve read, I mean if somebody did say something about his wife then I would understand fully his reaction.

Boring game

Waugh also dismissed a suggestion that his team have made cricket boring by winning all the time after the fourth Test. “Rubbish, really,” said Waugh. “I don’t remember anyone saying that the West Indies ruined the game in the 1970s and 1980s. What happens is that it makes everyone else raise their standards.”

Waugh said West Indies were an example of teams stepping up to challenge.

“West Indies are an emerging side, they showed that in the last two Tests. They’ve gone a bit further, raised the bar and it’s up to other sides to try and do the same.”

Media criticism

Meanwhile, the Australian media labelled their players as ‘bad sports’ for their unruly behaviour.

While much credit was given to the host’s world record run-chase of 418, the Australian media focussed on the row between McGrath and Sarwan.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s cricket writer Peter Roebuck said the verbal exchange and McGrath’s finger-pointing had sullied the match and the game’s image.

“Regardless of the result, the Australians have done nothing to enhance their reputations as sportsmen,” Roebuck wrote in Wednesday’s paper.

“If victory cannot be achieved without recourse to the sort of antagonism seen in Antigua then it is not worth bothering about. Cricket searched for a champion team and found only an unscrupulous aggressor.”

Roebuck’s sentiments were echoed by The Australian’s columnist Patrick Smith who said the incident was an embarrassment to Australian officials at a time when they have promised to clean up the game.

“The line between belligerence and hostility is a fine one ... Australian cricket has been at fault for allowing their players to hang about the line for so long.

“Australian administrators have tolerated their cricketers’ boorishness because they have been the dominant team throughout the world and success generates interest and income.”

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph columnist Mike Gibson criticised Match Referee Mike Proctor for not taking stronger action against McGrath when he began waving his finger at umpire David Shepherd.

Under the headline: “Aussies are out of control”, Gibson wrote: “Instead of making McGrath aware that his behaviour was unacceptable and would not be tolerated, he allowed the umpire to be humiliated by a player who had lost control.

“The lily-livered reaction of those in charge has made a laughing stock of the game.”

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