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Making his debut as an all-rounder complementing his batting with aggressive medium pace, Steve came into the Australian ODI and test teams in the summer of 1985-86 (against New Zealand and India respectively), at one of the lowest ebbs the Australian team had reached with a succession of series losses. He proved crucial in both fields in Australia's surprise win in the 1987 World Cup. At the time, he was dubbed the 'Iceman' for his cool bowling at the death, helped along by a very effective 'back of the hand' slower ball.
His batting began to deliver on its promise when Australia regained the Ashes in 1989, with his first test century finally arriving after a succession of scores in the nineties. However, a run of poor form led to his being dropped from the Australian side in 1991, ironically to be replaced by his twin brother Mark Waugh.
Returning to the team against the West Indies in 1992-93, Steve built a reputation throughout the 1990s as perhaps the most solid batsman in world cricket. Lacking the attacking flair of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, his reputation for strength of will saw him make many centuries for his team, often under pressure and batting with the tailenders. Like most Australian players, he has an array of strong off-side shots. His trademark shot against spin bowling is the "slog sweep" which he gradually developed later in his career—theoretically technically unsound, it has proven highly effective against the spinners and even against faster bowlers at times. Waugh rarely plays the "hook shot" and is therefore regarded as vulnerable to short-pitched bowling, a theory that has been widely tested by his opponents. Despite looking ungainly when facing it, he is rarely dismissed through it.
Waugh's ability to continue to play despite a back injury that largely prevented him bowling further enhanced his reputation. Waugh, along with the bowling of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, provided perhaps the major foundation upon which the Australian team rose to become what was widely regarded as the best team in the world by the mid-1990s.
Waugh took over the captaincy of the one-day side in 1997-98, as planning began for the 1999 World Cup. Producing several reasonable scores in a side struggling early, Waugh saved his best for two crucial games against South Africa, scoring 120 against South Africa in the last game of the "Super Six" to ensure Australia's progression to the semi-final, and then 56 in the semi, which was tied.
Upon the retirement of Mark Taylor in 1999, Waugh assumed the test captaincy, and turned an already successful side into a dominant one that in many cricket watchers' views ranks with Sir Donald Bradman's 1948 Invincibles and the West Indian teams of the 1980s as one of the best cricket teams of all time. Steve Waugh's ruthless approach has led to a succession of drubbings of hapless, outclassed opposition and a record run of 16 consecutive Test match wins, easily eclipsing the previous record of 10 by the West Indies.
Waugh departs from the distinctly Anglocentric, ockerish, and politically conservative traditions of Australian cricket in his interest in India. Waugh helps to raise funds for a leper children's colony, "Udayan", in Calcutta. Whilst hardly a novel thing for a celebrity to do, it is highly novel for an Australian cricketer. He reportedly also encouraged his players to learn about and enjoy the countries they visited and played in—presumably partly to reduce the siege mentality of some previous Australian teams playing in south Asia, but also seemingly for a genuine desire to use cricket to build bridges.
Waugh is a keen photographer and has produced several "tour diaries" which feature his images. In his latter years as a cricketer, he has written for a number of newspapers. He insists on writing them himself rather than with the assistance of professional journalists.
Waugh is married to Lynette and has three children.
Steve Waugh retired from international cricket, after the fourth test against India on January 6, 2004. Steve saved the Australian team from defeat in his final test by an innings in which he scored 80. A record number of fans and spectators bid farewell to Waugh at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
|Australian One-day International cricket captains|
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