The autobiography October 24, 2005

'Drinking culture' upset Waugh's captaincy debut


Cheers: Steve Waugh and Ian Healy toast their win in the fourth Test against West Indies in 1999, but Waugh says alcohol was a problem on the tour © Justin Langer

Steve Waugh felt betrayed by a drinking culture and let down by his brother Mark and Ian Healy on his first tour as captain. Waugh, who launched his autobiography Out Of My Comfort Zone in Sydney on Sunday, took over from Mark Taylor for the 1999 West Indies tour, which Australia drew 2-2, and was disappointed with the team attitude.

"What I saw as a drinking culture was affecting more members of the squad than I had initially thought," he 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."

Waugh said his brother Mark had an average tour and didn't get involved enough in the running of the team. "I felt betrayed when later I discovered that secret pacts had been made by some of the guys to stay out past curfew," he said.

The tour was also famous for the dropping of Shane Warne in favour of Stuart MacGill for the fourth Test at Antigua. "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 the 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 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."