The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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We’re not perfect: Steve
- Test skipper back home to face the music over McGrath outburst

Sydney, May 17 (AFP): Captain Steve Waugh said he regretted Glenn McGrath’s ugly outburst at West Indian batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan in the final Test and was not surprised by the revulsion it received in Australia.

Waugh, who arrived home from the Caribbean today, said he told his players to “back off and get on with the game” following McGrath’s foul-mouthed rage at Sarwan at the height of a sledging war with the batsman.

The Australian Test skipper said the first he saw of the incident was McGrath complaining to English umpire David Shepherd just after the heated clash, which drew censure from the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) and widespread disgust from the Australian sporting public.

Waugh, criticised here for his non-intervention at the time, defended his response, arguing that it was the responsibility of individual players to behave themselves when representing their country.

“The first I saw of it was McGrath talking to David Shepherd,” Waugh told reporters at Sydney airport.

“As soon as that happened I did mention to Glenn and our other players just to back off and let’s get on with the game. So, as far as I’m concerned, I did what I thought was necessary.

“Many times I have stepped in and said enough’s enough. On that occasion I did my best. There’s always regrets when things like that happen on the field. The heat of the moment got to a few players.”

Waugh, who talked little about his Test future, said the first three Tests in the Caribbean had been friendly. He said the relationship between the teams was among the best he had experienced in his career.

“But sometimes frustrations do come out,” said Waugh, who turns 38 next month.

“There were a lot of emotions out there. Obviously, Glenn was under pressure. He came back home because (wife) Jane had some problems (treating a cancer) with illness and when you’re out there playing, you’re only human.

“Some of those emotions are going to come to the surface and that’s what happened in the last Test. We are sometimes seen as the bully boys but I know in the last Test quite a few of their (West Indian) players did say some things on the field.”

Waugh said it was each player’s duty to act responsibly.

The team was aware of the role-model status, he said, but the players made mistakes at times. “As a captain I make the guys aware of what their responsibilities are. But once you step on a field you’re responsible for your own actions. It’s up to each player to know their responsibilities. If they step out of line then they pay the price,” he said.

“I think the (Australian) public expects us to behave well on the field and I think 99 per cent of the time we do. There’s going to be incidents when you play top level sport — there’s a lot of emotions. In the last Test... One or two things were said, they were misunderstood and you saw the result.

“Like everyone else, we’re not perfect. We’re going to make mistakes. There’s a lot at stake, a lot of pressures. I’m not making excuses but it does happen. That’s the reality of the situation.”

Waugh doesn’t want to think about his future right now. “I want to reflect on a really positive series which we won 3-1 and which was played in good spirit. I don’t want to reflect on one or two incidents that people think marred the series. And now I’ve got some time to relax and think about my future.”

On the July home series against Bangladesh, Waugh said: “It would be great to play (for the first time) in Darwin and Cairns.”

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