Australia March 11, 2013

Was Steve Waugh really a crisis man?

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Steve Waugh had a lesser scope for crisis as compared to batsmen from more impoverished teams
Steve Waugh had a lesser scope for crisis as compared to batsmen from more impoverished teams © AFP

Last week I was chatting with a colleague at the office about the India-Australia series. While he was delighted with India's performance in the first two Tests, he was extremely disappointed with the way Australia had played so far. After ruminating over the feats of the great Australian teams of the past and the retirements of their legends, he delivered the knockout punch: "Losing is no crime, but to lose without a fight is a shame. They need gritty, resilient batsmen like Steve Waugh to withstand the crisis as if their lives depended on it." Not again. That was the cue for me to get back to my desk.

Steve Waugh's reputation as a crisis man is like the real estate market in Mumbai: everyone around me, except me, believes it's credible. It's the one awkward point of discussion in almost all my cricket conversations. How do you explain to the world that what they seem to take as an irrefutable fact, is an extremely dicey claim? Sometimes I wonder if some dream architect played an evil trick and planted such a thought in people's minds.

To begin with, it's such a counterintuitive claim to make without even getting into much detail. Waugh predominantly represented an Australian team which conquered nearly every peak in the cricket world. He had the luxury of fine opening batsmen in the early part of his career and a truly legendary one towards the latter stages of his career. With Ricky Ponting at No. 3 (or six), it's hard to ask for more. And if you add some fine bowling attacks over the years, including one of the best to have graced the game, and arguably the greatest No. 7 ever into the equation, there's not a particularly great scope for crisis.

In the foreword to Steve Waugh's autobiography, Rahul Dravid wrote this about him: "Steve's legacy is hard to define, but I will remember him because he gave grit a good name. He proved that it is not only the pretty player who can capture the imagination, but also the tough and determined. Suddenly these qualities became as vital, as spoken about, as silken grace and sublime timing."

While the word talent is often narrowly defined and talked about in cricket, with Steve Waugh, the equation reversed. It's the lack of talent which was narrowly defined as merely lacking in "silken grace and sublime timing"

While the word talent is often narrowly defined and talked about in cricket, with Steve Waugh, the equation reversed. It's the lack of talent which was narrowly defined as merely lacking in "silken grace and sublime timing". In order to glorify his grit and toughness, often his talent was underappreciated; sometimes it was assumed to be near-absent. It made for a great stereotype: Mark Waugh, the more naturally talented brother whose batting was envied by ballet dancers, was the underachiever, while the scratchy, ugly, tough-as-nails, taking-blows-on-the-body Steve Waugh made the most of his limited talent.

That Gideon Haigh wrote this about Steve Waugh can be conveniently skipped in the narrative for glorifying his grit: "When he made his first real impact as a Test batsman 20 years ago in England, the praise was for his model technique, of a purity no local batsman could emulate." That he perhaps possessed the finest square cut in the game in his time is an unwanted detail. That he could whack spinners out of the attack at will with his mighty slog sweeps can never be a case study for great hand-eye coordination.

Does he look graceful? No. Is he often spectacular? Not really. Does he score big runs? Yes. Put him in that gritty, resilient silo please. If only…

Now, let's come to the "crisis man" tag. He had a lesser scope for crisis as compared to batsmen from more impoverished teams. Brian Lara had the luxury of picking from many varieties of them; Sachin Tendulkar was blessed with it for a large part of his career; Andy Flower rarely found himself in any other situation with his batting pads on. Quite how an Australian who had his peak as a batsman in the post-Border era came to be known as the defining crisis man in cricket is a mystery in itself. In that, quite how Steve Waugh became the obvious choice is a bigger mystery.

He made two fifties in the fourth innings of a Test with an average of 25.54 over 31 innings. Thirty of his 32 hundreds came in the first innings. His first-innings average was 60.69 and second-innings average 32.45. Nineteen of his 32 hundreds were accompanied by another hundred by a team-mate in the same innings.

To make my job a little easier, I filtered all the matches in which he scored hundreds and scribbled some notes against each of them. Considering the situation he walked in at, the opposition, the venue etc, I counted about eight hundreds that can be categorised as resurrecting an innings in crisis. Even if I stretched the definition a bit and include a 96 for 3 against Sri Lanka with two frontline batsmen in the hut as a serious crisis, the list expands to about 10. Add a few non-hundred knocks too. For a veteran of 168 Tests, 260 innings, who predominantly batted Nos. 5 and 6, that is nothing standout spectacular.

There is little doubt that Waugh is one of the great modern batsmen and his double-hundred in the West Indies has a pride of place among cricket's finest innings of all time. He piled on the runs when given a solid platform, consolidated the innings in precarious situations, resurrected the innings around the odd collapse, came back from an extended period of thoroughly wretched form, scored big runs against all opponents in all conditions. If anything, he was one of the great frontrunners among modern batsmen.

He was no George Headley, not even a patch on Allan Border. Heck, he was pretty much undistinguishable from most other great batsmen of his era when it comes to performing in crisis situations. There, I said it.

PS - the scribbles:

177, Leeds: Aus scored 601. Taylor 136, Border 66, Jones 79. Walks in at 273 for 4.

152, Lords: Eng all out for 286. Walks in at 221 for 4. Couple of quick wickets later, rallies around with tail to post 528.

134, Hobart: Aus 224 in the first innings, SL responded with 216. Walks in 253 for 5 after a hundred from Taylor at the top of the order to join Jones. Both score hundreds.

100, SCG: Came in at 160 for 2. Aus scored 503 in the first innings and WI responded with 606 in the second. Match drawn.

157, Leeds: Innings win for Australia against England. Came in at 321 for 4 and scored 157. Border scored 200 and Boon 107.

147, Brisbane: Australia amassed 607 in the first innings after dismissing NZ for 233. Came in at 277 for 4 to join Border and both scored hundreds. Border - 105.

164, Adelaide: Came in at 183 for 4 and shared a 208-run partnership with Border to put up a first innings total of 469 which set up the win against SA.

200, Jamaica: Came in at 77 for 3 against Ambrose, Walsh and the Benjamins and tilted the balance of power in the sport with a double-hundred. Mark Waugh scored 126.

112, Brisbane: Walks in at 213 for 3 against Wasim, Waqar, Mohammad Akram and Saqlain and consolidates with a hundred to set up the victory.

131, Melbourne: 219 for 3. Boon scored 110. Australia piled on 500 in the first innings to set up the win against SL.

170, Adelaide: 96 for 3. Builds two sizeable partnerships with Mark Waugh and Ian Healy to put up a big total in the 1st innings and set up the win against SL.

160, Jo'burg: 169 for 3. 385-run partnership with Blewett, who scored 214, set up an innings victory against SA.

108 & 116: Old Trafford: Back-to-the-wall fighting hundreds in each innings under tough conditions against an efficient English attack to almost single-handedly steer the team to a win.

157, Rawalpindi: Walked in at 28 for 3 and put on a 198-run partnership with Slater (108) and two more big partnerships with Lehmann (98) and Healy (82) to set up the innings win against Pak.

112, Brisbane: 106 for 3. 187-run partnership with Kasprowicz (nightwatchman) was followed by a hundred from Healy. Draw against England.

122, Melbourne: 98 for 3. Only Australian batsman to cross 50 in the innings. Was left stranded in the second innings as the rest of the team collapsed around him to give England a victory.

100, Jamaica: Joined his brother at 46 for 3, resurrected the slide with a 112-run partnership only for Lara to play a masterclass in response and make it irrelevant.

199, Barbados: Joined Langer at 36 for 3 and later put on a 281-run partnership with Ponting to push the team to 490 in the first innings before Lara played arguably the greatest Test innings and snatch the match away from Australia.

151, Harare: The brothers got together to rescue the team from a precarious start to set up the win. Mark Waugh scored 90.

150, Adelaide: 52 for 4. 239-run partnership with Ponting (125) set the victory up against India.

151, Wellington: 51 for 4. 199-run partnership with Slater (143) and a 114-run partnership with Martyn (78) set up the win against NZ.

121, Melbourne: The only Australian batsman to build on the start. His hundred set up healthy first innings total and a twin collapse from WI resulted in an Australia win.

103, Sydney: 109 for 3. Slater, Ponting and Gilchrist scored fifties around him to help build a big first innings lead and set up the win against WI.

110, Kolkata: 214 for 3. Consolidated on the fine start given by Hayden/Slater/Langer, survived a middle order collapse and put on a 133-run partnership with Gillespie. Then Draxman happened.

105, Edgbaston: One of the 3 centurions (Martyn and Gilchrist) in the run fest in which Australia cruised to an innings win against England.

157, The Oval: Another runathon. Again, one of the 3 centurions (Langer and Mark Waugh). Another innings win against England.

103, Sharjah: Consolidated on the solid start from Hayden (89) and Ponting (150) to set up a huge first innings total. Innings win against Pakistan.

102, Sydney: 56 for 3. Resurrected the innings from a collapse with Gilchrist (133) only for Michael Vaughan to take the game away from Australia with a masterful 183.

115, Bridgetown: Part of the run-fest - 4 batsmen crossed fifties and two scored hundreds (Ponting - 113) to set up the win against West Indies.

100, Darwin: Came in at 184 for 3 and scored a hundred along with Lehmann after Bangladesh collapsed for 97 in the first innings. Innings win for Australia.

156, Cairns: Another runathon with 3 centurions (Lehmann and Martin Love being the other two). Another innings win against Bangladesh.

When he's not watching / talking / tweeting / reading cricket, Mahesh Sethuraman works in a bank in India to pay his bills. He tweets @cornerd

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Green_and_Gold on March 13, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    How can you determine grit and character through numbers and stats? You determine it through watching a player. You can score a gritty 40 runs that could make the difference of winning a key session that could turn the match and have a greater impact. I enjoy talking stats as much as the next bloke but apart from the career average you typically talk about the player and what you have seen live or on TV. The 100 he scored off the last ball of the day in one of his last test matches immortalized his grittiness for me - cant remember much of the game except for that moment and his red hanky. Thats what cricket and legacies are about.

  • Sir.Ivor on March 13, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    For sheer grit and as the man who lifted Australian cricket from the doldrums there can be no one other than Alan Border.He was courageous physically and played cricket in the typical Australian style full of hooks and square cuts.But for some reason he is seldom spoken of as the man who initiated the post mid 80s renaissance.Mark Taylor only continued a trend that set in but with two of the greatest bowlers of all time Magrath and Warne.Steve Waugh inherited a rich legacy and I have often wondered how the media have made him look larger than a collosus.Maybe the red handkerchief peeping from the pocket or the famous one-liner,'you just dropped the cup son' in the World Cup semis made him look and sound as a giant amongst midgets.It is quite possible that because he looked ordinary in comparison with his Mark the media made it a rags and riches story. I agree with Mahesh that Steve Waugh was what he was because of when he happened in cricket. But if grit needed a face it will be him !

  • Drifting on March 13, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    Steve Waugh had considerably more talented than he was given credit for - and he also had ample grit, determination, mental toughness. 4th innings numbers dont say much for that Aussie team (in any case, Tendulkar averages more than Lara does in the 4th innings, yet everyone seems to hold Lara in greater esteem as a 'crisis man'). He broke Akram at Rawalpindi, Donald at J'Burg, and Ambrose himself at Kingston. Smashed England repeatedly for good measure. Of course there were other contributions, there always are. But no batsman in the 90s (or since) has bent the arc of cricketing history in favor of his team with more influence, than Steve Waugh. And therein lies his greatness.

  • on March 13, 2013, 3:44 GMT

    Mahesh you make a great argument. It's akin to calling Viv Richards the best player of fast bowling although the great man never faced a single bouncer from Roberts, Holding, Garner and Marshall outside the nets and had arguably the greatest opening pair ever to protect him from the new all.

    But there is just one more point that you need to consider. How many times did Steve Waugh fail to come to the party when the chips were down and Australia needed him to dig his heels in? And how does that percentage compare to the other batsman of his generation.

    Also as Ed Smith wrote recently, the highs make a more lasting impression. And for the likes of me, who remember what a force of nature the Windies were, Steve Waugh's 200 in the landmark , balance of power changing Jamaica test remains an all time classic.

    Great article. Cheers

  • Vkarthik on March 14, 2013, 22:58 GMT

    This has to be one of the most half baked articles i have ever read. Any article that heavily rely on many dug up cricinfo stats should be taken with a pinch of salt.The 200 in West Indies was an innings of courage and self-belief. You can't quantify them. Just because Mark waugh scored 126 in that match , that innings won't become any less in terms of quality. Obviously the author has started following cricket after cricinfo statsguru was developed.

  • paraloid on March 14, 2013, 21:53 GMT

    While the numbers may say something different, what we see or feel may often be the higher truth: Viv Richard's numbers may be lower than many other modern batsmens', but I'm sure he's terrified more bowlers than anyone else; and when Waugh came in, his attitude, his glower could change the atmosphere both on the pitch and in the stadium. @Matthew Cowling (March 14, 2013, 12:00 GMT) You had to be DRAGGED to lunch with Ambrose and Walsh ??? I would have been dragging evryone else behind me in the rush to be there !!!

  • on March 14, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    Interesting. Over the summer I was dragged to a sportsmans lunch with Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. Ambrose was asked who he did not enjoy bowling to, he instantly said S. Waugh. Ambrose simply shook his head and said the word "stubborn" about eight times. I'll probably take the word of Curtley above our writer here.

  • on March 14, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    Disagree with the article. He did score runs whenever Aussies were in trouble. Can't hold it against him to not be in trouble often enough.

  • on March 14, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    By your own admission, 10 of his 32 hundreds were in a crisis. That is a really high percentage. Laxman is considered to be the other crisis-man of his generation. He had only 3-4 crisis hundreds. Of course, there were key runs with the tail in some innings, might not be hundreds, but I'm sure Steve Waugh had those as well. Waugh's last innings to save Australia the ignominy of a Test defeat at home against India comes to mind. It wasn't a hundred, but it was a crisis waiting to happen if he'd failed.

  • akr555 on March 14, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    Usually it is the less gifted players from whom we have low expectations to begin with that are seen as the crisis men. For players like Sachin or Lara who we expect to score, when the average dips from 55 to 40, it is a disaster. VVS laxman was india's crisis man but scored only during a crisis and at other times was busy creating or participating in one. How Rahul Dravid became India's crisis man - scored 200 and 90 in Adelaide ... just as Sachin did in Sydney .. but the lack of an agarkar spell meant Dravid was the gritty fella and Sachin being ordinary. Perceptions around grit and crisis players are always biased towards the less talented batsmen.

  • Green_and_Gold on March 13, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    How can you determine grit and character through numbers and stats? You determine it through watching a player. You can score a gritty 40 runs that could make the difference of winning a key session that could turn the match and have a greater impact. I enjoy talking stats as much as the next bloke but apart from the career average you typically talk about the player and what you have seen live or on TV. The 100 he scored off the last ball of the day in one of his last test matches immortalized his grittiness for me - cant remember much of the game except for that moment and his red hanky. Thats what cricket and legacies are about.

  • Sir.Ivor on March 13, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    For sheer grit and as the man who lifted Australian cricket from the doldrums there can be no one other than Alan Border.He was courageous physically and played cricket in the typical Australian style full of hooks and square cuts.But for some reason he is seldom spoken of as the man who initiated the post mid 80s renaissance.Mark Taylor only continued a trend that set in but with two of the greatest bowlers of all time Magrath and Warne.Steve Waugh inherited a rich legacy and I have often wondered how the media have made him look larger than a collosus.Maybe the red handkerchief peeping from the pocket or the famous one-liner,'you just dropped the cup son' in the World Cup semis made him look and sound as a giant amongst midgets.It is quite possible that because he looked ordinary in comparison with his Mark the media made it a rags and riches story. I agree with Mahesh that Steve Waugh was what he was because of when he happened in cricket. But if grit needed a face it will be him !

  • Drifting on March 13, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    Steve Waugh had considerably more talented than he was given credit for - and he also had ample grit, determination, mental toughness. 4th innings numbers dont say much for that Aussie team (in any case, Tendulkar averages more than Lara does in the 4th innings, yet everyone seems to hold Lara in greater esteem as a 'crisis man'). He broke Akram at Rawalpindi, Donald at J'Burg, and Ambrose himself at Kingston. Smashed England repeatedly for good measure. Of course there were other contributions, there always are. But no batsman in the 90s (or since) has bent the arc of cricketing history in favor of his team with more influence, than Steve Waugh. And therein lies his greatness.

  • on March 13, 2013, 3:44 GMT

    Mahesh you make a great argument. It's akin to calling Viv Richards the best player of fast bowling although the great man never faced a single bouncer from Roberts, Holding, Garner and Marshall outside the nets and had arguably the greatest opening pair ever to protect him from the new all.

    But there is just one more point that you need to consider. How many times did Steve Waugh fail to come to the party when the chips were down and Australia needed him to dig his heels in? And how does that percentage compare to the other batsman of his generation.

    Also as Ed Smith wrote recently, the highs make a more lasting impression. And for the likes of me, who remember what a force of nature the Windies were, Steve Waugh's 200 in the landmark , balance of power changing Jamaica test remains an all time classic.

    Great article. Cheers

  • Vkarthik on March 14, 2013, 22:58 GMT

    This has to be one of the most half baked articles i have ever read. Any article that heavily rely on many dug up cricinfo stats should be taken with a pinch of salt.The 200 in West Indies was an innings of courage and self-belief. You can't quantify them. Just because Mark waugh scored 126 in that match , that innings won't become any less in terms of quality. Obviously the author has started following cricket after cricinfo statsguru was developed.

  • paraloid on March 14, 2013, 21:53 GMT

    While the numbers may say something different, what we see or feel may often be the higher truth: Viv Richard's numbers may be lower than many other modern batsmens', but I'm sure he's terrified more bowlers than anyone else; and when Waugh came in, his attitude, his glower could change the atmosphere both on the pitch and in the stadium. @Matthew Cowling (March 14, 2013, 12:00 GMT) You had to be DRAGGED to lunch with Ambrose and Walsh ??? I would have been dragging evryone else behind me in the rush to be there !!!

  • on March 14, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    Interesting. Over the summer I was dragged to a sportsmans lunch with Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. Ambrose was asked who he did not enjoy bowling to, he instantly said S. Waugh. Ambrose simply shook his head and said the word "stubborn" about eight times. I'll probably take the word of Curtley above our writer here.

  • on March 14, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    Disagree with the article. He did score runs whenever Aussies were in trouble. Can't hold it against him to not be in trouble often enough.

  • on March 14, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    By your own admission, 10 of his 32 hundreds were in a crisis. That is a really high percentage. Laxman is considered to be the other crisis-man of his generation. He had only 3-4 crisis hundreds. Of course, there were key runs with the tail in some innings, might not be hundreds, but I'm sure Steve Waugh had those as well. Waugh's last innings to save Australia the ignominy of a Test defeat at home against India comes to mind. It wasn't a hundred, but it was a crisis waiting to happen if he'd failed.

  • akr555 on March 14, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    Usually it is the less gifted players from whom we have low expectations to begin with that are seen as the crisis men. For players like Sachin or Lara who we expect to score, when the average dips from 55 to 40, it is a disaster. VVS laxman was india's crisis man but scored only during a crisis and at other times was busy creating or participating in one. How Rahul Dravid became India's crisis man - scored 200 and 90 in Adelaide ... just as Sachin did in Sydney .. but the lack of an agarkar spell meant Dravid was the gritty fella and Sachin being ordinary. Perceptions around grit and crisis players are always biased towards the less talented batsmen.

  • cloudmess on March 14, 2013, 0:01 GMT

    You cannot This article is flawed for so many reasons. Was it written by a friend of Shane "I should have been captain of Australia instead" Warne? Making a century from 200 for 4 can still be a crucial in a high-scoring match. It also makes no allowance for wickets falling at the other end after Waugh came to the crease. And is scoring a test century ever easy? I wasn't aware it was. How many of Shane Warne's wickets are devalued by bowling at hapless tail-enders on raging turners? What's Glenn McGrath's average against top order batsmen on flat pitches? Using these 'stats' - how many 'tough' centuries have Ponting, Kallis, Tendulkar, Lara made? And just try telling the other test sides from the 1990s that Waugh was a mentally soft opponent.

  • on March 13, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    Picture this - you are batting against the most dangerous bowling attack in the world on a cemented track, with the best bowler in that line-up who's almost 7 feet tall walking upto you & giving you a stare that clearly says "I will kill you", and then you tell him "Go F&^# yourself". You end up that innings scoring 65 runs out of your team's total of 128 runs. Some experts consider that innings to be probably the finest half-century in Test cricket given the ferocity of the bowling attack. Now is our writer considering that to be a part of 'grit'. NO!! The very fact that Mahesh doesn't care to devote his effort on the 'qualitative' aspects of these kind of situations speak he's quite biased agaisnt S Waugh's legacy. Does Mahesh wish to cover what that 102 against England at Sydney meant for a 36-year old who was going to be dropped from his team if he didn't show up with something substantial. And where's the 80-odd runs innings featuring here that Waugh played in his farewell game!!

  • on March 13, 2013, 17:25 GMT

    @ avnish anand, in fact Viv was the best against fast bowling; do you think it is Gavaskar? Ha Ha. Gavaskar just defended against fast bowling and even in that he failed in the two most important tours he had. In 1981 he was miserable against Lillee and Pasco and in 1983 he was hopeless in the West Indies. Down under in 1979 Viv destroyed Lillee, Thompson and Hogg to shift the balance of power in world cricket. And in first class cricket too he destroyed fast bowlers including his West Indies fast bowlers. But beyond statistics and performance look at the way he played. He premeditated. Came forward or made room or walked across. It was just wrong. The bowlers could see it. They pitched it in difficult position. But still somehow Viv adjusted and hit them for boundaries. Just like that in Steve's case it is not about stats. Steve was a mighty tough crisis player. As @Nadeem1976 said that one knock he played against SA in the WC is enough to prove that.

  • Nadeem1976 on March 13, 2013, 15:43 GMT

    a very bad article about a great batsman. Steve single innings in ODI against south africa in 1999 where he scored 120 and won the match and then kept on to win the WC from that on is clear indication that he was man made for crisis. don't always use test cricket stats and a batsman is judge by his ODI innings too and his ODI innings were amazing too.

  • on March 13, 2013, 15:16 GMT

    Another 'Statistical article' which is a waste of time. Greatness in sport, let alone any quality in Sport cannot be determined by Statistics. Sachin Tendulkar is not the greatest because of his lofty stats. He influenced an entire nation through his batting. Cricket in India is what it is today because of all his exploits in the mid-90's. People thronged to the stadiums to watch him and left when he was dismissed. The same with watching on television. Guys like Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting cannot be faulted because they were part of a strong Ozzy Unit. In fact, it is tougher to sustain performance in a stronger side. The pressure to perform when you are part of a weak side is lesser when compared to a stronger one. Steve Waugh characterized Aussie Cricket and should be given due credit. Keep your stats in the cupboard. It is worthless once the players leave the field. And you have no right to discredit a professional sportsman.

  • ankursilverstone on March 13, 2013, 14:46 GMT

    @creekeetman...who has the record for having most man of the match??? I think its Sachin...no doubt he is not a crisis man...crisis man for india were always either laxman aur dravid...but far better than steve waugh...

    @sir_ivor and green and gold...u talk abt abt grit...kumble has dat...bowling his heart out while he was badly injured...u talked abt working with tail..Dravid it is...he has the record of seeing the most wickets fell from the other end...u know wat...the time when steve waugh played Aus used to win each n every test match so again puleez dont say there were dead rubbers...

  • creekeetman on March 13, 2013, 14:30 GMT

    @ avnish anand, just to stray off topic briefly only because of the ignorance of the post... first of all at test level viv faced some of the best fast bowlers ever, and some other very good ones... botham, willis, imran, dev, hadlee, hogg, lilee, thompson just to name a few... and not always was he protected from the new ball, do you think the openers scored big every time? many times greenidge or haynes fell cheeply forcing viv to virtually open... as for not ever facing holding, garner etc... he actually did many times at domestic level, viv played for the leeward islands, holding is jamaican, while marshall and garner are bajan and croft guyanese.

  • on March 13, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    This heretic fails to itemise the numerous sub-hundred scores Waugh put up to pull his side out of shit creek. That he invariably ran out of partners suggests simple logic: He was hanging around the dregs and that it does require both ends being manned to still qualify as an innings. To run with the 100s list (I'll do an inverse-SRT namedrop as these posts go: 50 hundreds but exactly how many rescue ops?), the post-Border era (40 to 50-odd for 3 a recurring theme), especially Jamaica onward is particularly instructive. To cull ones arsenal of scoring shots (hook, pull decommissioned as unethical) smells like pure, unadulterated crisis management to me. How many times does the fabled #7 feature in any list anyway?

  • on March 13, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    Turn it up Mahesh. I understand where you're coming from, but to suggest that he didn't perform in crisis situations is completely unsubstantiated. All you have shown with these stats is that his better innings were generally when the game was in the balance. To show he averaged lower in second innings has little correlation, many of these instances could have been dead rubber situations, due to Australia's dominance in that era. Do you have stats to show his scores in 'crisis situations' or stats that reflect his captaincy in 'crisis situations', for example, to show how he could instil confidence in his players to perform in crucial times. I don't think you can use stats at all to define character. Steve Waugh was unflappable, I think his attitude would've remained exactly the same in any situation. Even when Curtley Ambrose was threatening to kill him. Hows that for a crisis?

  • Cpt.Meanster on March 13, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    I don't think Tendulkar is much of a crisis man himself. Far too many times have I seen him get out leaving India tantalizingly poised for defeat. I would have been happy had you included Rahul Dravid or VVS Laxman as crisis men. Cause those two surely had the character to do great things. The fabled Kolkata 2001 test is proof enough to warrant my statement. Tendulkar has had too few impacts on reversal of crisis unlike Waugh who was often stranded with tail enders and still went on win games for Australia in both ODIs and tests.

  • on March 13, 2013, 12:08 GMT

    An interesting idea. Perhaps with a grain of truth. Maybe there was some transference from Steve Waugh's no nonsense, steely and self-assured character on to his batting. However, that said, the analysis is incomplete to categorically draw such a conclusion. It does not consider: time at the crease or low scores - which can be as valuable as a ton in the right circumstances. I remember watching him at the time. I recall that if I needed someone to bat for my life - it would be him.

  • creekeetman on March 13, 2013, 12:07 GMT

    poor article, also it shows a lack of understanding of test cricket.... lara and tendular are not crisis men, they only ever played a handful of innings each over their test careers that saved or won matches. waugh did more than the two of them combined for oz... i would take waugh any day over lara or tendulkar, in fact i would also rather have amla or chanderpaul over those two.

  • Chris_Howard on March 13, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    Maybe Steve wasn't a risis man, but he certainly knew how to get the best out of the tail. His ability to prevent the tail from collapsing is maybe a part of why people think of him as a goto man in a crisis.

  • on March 13, 2013, 11:49 GMT

    Good Argument but poor analysis. Crisis just can't be defined in terms of the situation in which you walk in. It also depends on how the game shapes later. For example Kolkata test. He walks in at 214 for 3. But soon a hat-trick happens and the team is in shambles. Another factor that needs to be analyzed is how much did he score with tailenders?

  • on March 13, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    I partially agree with your analysis. However, I wonder what the outcome would be, if you were to do a similar analysis on Sachin Tendulkar. Not really a crisis man either ;)

  • on March 13, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    This is by far one of the poorest articles one would ever read on espncricinfo - Irrational categorization and comments on a cricket greater. I wonder who this Mahesh Sethraman dude is! Looking at statistics isn't the way to come up with a report. He was one of the best to handle pressure and crisis, and everyone who has watched the game and understands it is a witness to it. Reading this article will only be a waste of your time.

  • on March 13, 2013, 11:17 GMT

    I think this is a very unfair article. Steve Waugh was a great captain and he was a fine batsmen. To try and suggest he was anything less than what he was smacks of very sour greats. I really don't see the point of this article.

  • Nerk on March 13, 2013, 11:12 GMT

    I suppose it was the no frills approach to batting in the second half of his career that have made people see him as a man for a crisis. Me, I just think of the two WC matches in 99 against South Africa. He made two vital innings when his team needed it. There is also the double hundred in '95 against the Windies, and a fighting 67* against India in Delhi in '96. Whilst he did have Ponting and Gilchrist in his side, that was only towards the end of his career. For most of it, he was a fighter along with Boon, Border and Taylor.

  • andrew-schulz on March 13, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    This is rubbish. Waugh performed in a crisis more than often enough to put him in the top bracket. A poor fourth innings record means little unless you were to analyse it further. And why on earth would you only analyse the centuries? I don't have the space that you do, but I'll give you three that come to mind as great crisis innings without even having to dig. One-off Test in Delhi in 1996, port-of-Spain, the Test before his double Ton in 1995, and Trent Bridge in 1993, only 30-odd, but batted for ages to save a game few people could have. Your last paragraph before the PS is a disgrace. Undistinguishable from most other great batsmen of his era? Maybe you are just trying to use a big word, but it is inappropriate. The word is 'indistinguishable' anyway.

  • bored_iam on March 13, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    @vinjoy: No disrespect to them, but Dravid & Kallis could NEVER be like Tendulkar or Lara.

  • on March 13, 2013, 9:09 GMT

    We all know that it is dangerous to rely on statistics. Cricket is not played on a page. An end to this discussion can be found in the World Cup match between Australia vs South Africa in 1999. Steve Waugh made one of the finest hundreds I have ever seen. It was a hundred that could only have been made by a man with extreme mental toughness, belief and self-discipline, hence making S.R Waugh a man for a crisis. Whether he performed this role on multiple occassions is irrelevant, since as the author stated, he was not required to do this very often. BUT, when he was required, as in the aforementioned match he delivered. It is because of this that Australia knew it could always rely on Waugh in a crisis, even if crises were rare.

  • on March 13, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    I would call Hussey a crisis man in the modern cricket. M.Bevan maybe going back a bit.. for new zealand in the past it was daniel vettori who would rescue our paltry 5 for 65 or something and somehow give us at least 200! (In nz that is.. yes daniel vettori isn't anything on a steve waugh i just mean for a team like NZ it was vettori for ages in test cricket) Someone late down the order who seems to somehow rescue a terrible situation to something either passable or formidable.

    I dont profess to be an expert, but I would never have called him a crisis man, and it will never come into my head as crisis man. Crisis man is, when the chips are down who comes in and takes a game away from the other team or rescues certain defeat.

    In the time I have played cricket the person I think of EVERY time I think of crisis... Hussey... Mr Cricket.. Id like to see his analysis of similar situations.

  • shashanksriv on March 13, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    You don't have to analyze his tons to know what difference he made, but you have to look at the important situations. Even in the last match of his test career, he prevented India from winning a test series in Australia after around 30 years. There are numerous other examples. He might not have won the small battles but he rarely failed on big occasions and series deciders. My top picks from his test career are (reverse chronological)mentioned below. Look at the series and game context to know why they love Steve Waugh 1.) 80 vs India in Sydney 2004 2.) 90 vs South Africa in Melbourne 2001 3.) 67 vs New Zealand in Perth 2001 4.) 110 vs India in Kolkata 2001 5.) 151 vs Newzealand in Wellington 2000 6.) 151 vs Zimbabwe in Harare 1999 7.) 72* vs West Indies in Antigua 1999 8.) 96 vs England in Sydney 1999 9.) 157 vs Pakistan in Rawalpindi 1998 10.) 85 vs South Africa in Sydney 1998 11.) 96 vs New Zealand in Perth 1997 there r many more but world limit bars further addition

  • rohan024 on March 13, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    the entire column is based upon the premise that only his centuries will dictate whether or not he was a crisis man. If he scored 90 or 99 runs in a crisis situation , and not a century, to lead his team to victory, that's not being considered a credible enough inning. In which case the basic premise of measuring an entire career of 160 test matches, 260 innings with a sample size of 32 centuries innings, is faulty.

  • Harlequin. on March 13, 2013, 8:39 GMT

    On the one hand we have ex-players, commentators, umpires and pundits who can't praise Waugh enough for his resilience and fighting qualities. On the other hand, we have Mahesh Sethuraman who has compiled a list of his centuries and decided that not enough of them were scored when he came in with the scoreboard reading less than 100...

  • on March 13, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    To me, Steve Waugh, Allan Border, Javed Miandad and Clive Lloyd have been the most potent crisis man in the last few decades. If on a given day, with their team in crisis, if they failed, who would have batted. No one. A crisis man is more potent in a strong team, than say an Indian team or Windies of the 90s. They were ever in crisis. Sachin, Lara etc had always a sword hanging on their head. So which crisis are we talking about. Even if you see Mahesh list, most of the 100s after the initial few are strife torn. For a strong Aussies batting, 36/38/46 for 3 was a veritable crisis. There are some 50s for 4 too. Also on a key day, if you are looking for a rare win, Waugh was the wicket you would look for. India could not get Waugh in the 2004 Sydney test and we lost a great chance to win a series in Australia.

  • on March 13, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    Mahesh, good article. If you do have the time can we do a similar comparision to Sunil Gavaskar's test career. Inevitably he was the crisis man India had in the 70s and 80s. He face the best o the West Indian, Aussie, Paki and English fast bowling. If Sunil Gavaskar's career can be considered as a benchmark then maybe we can eek out a percentile score on Steve Waugh's test performances. :-)

  • naBID on March 13, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    This is an utter disrespect to the legend. You can't define crisis as narrowly as you did. The whole cricket world knows about his ability. The writer is nothing but a Steve Waugh hater.

  • rogan on March 13, 2013, 5:57 GMT

    This article presupposes that fight is only shown in an innings in which in excess of 100 runs are scored. Obviously wrong, but a particularly inappropriate assumption for a player who, as is well known, scored most of his hundreds in matches Australia won (25 out of 32). I simply point out some additional performances that have not been excluded by that stipulation, during a 3 year period of his career:

    94/5 v WI, 3rd Test, SR Waugh 63* out of 128. Only batsman to pass 50 for the test. 96/7 v Ind, Only Test, SR Waugh 67* out of 234 - and only Australian batsman to pass 50 for the test. 96/7 v WI, 2nd test, SR Waugh 58 out of 219 and 37 out of 122. 96/7 v RSA, 3rd test, SR Waugh 67 out of 227 and 60* out of 185. No other Australian scored more than 42.

    A better measure would be to ask opposition players which Australian batsman they were happiest to see the back of when pressing for a (rare) win against Aust from '94 (Border's retirement) to 04. I think that is Dravid's point.

  • on March 13, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    Mahesh, a point to note, whether you consider a point of your analysis or crisis or not. Where did all those hundreds come? Your point would carry more credence as it not being a crisis if a lot of them came at home. I am seeing a lot of them on away pitches. And since you picked Lara, Tendulkar and Flower as examples, every team's definition of crisis happens to be different, depending on the team they have on that day.

    Maybe I would not term it as a crisis man, but more like knowing that if the bottom falls out of your batting, there is only so far it can fall out. Like with Dravid, knowing for a fact that whatever happens, you have one end secure. You need to worry only about the other end rather than hemorrhaging wickets at both ends. My 0.02ç though. :)

  • luks on March 13, 2013, 5:32 GMT

    a) Its not all about hundreds. What about fifties? Heck, anyone who has played cricket would know that a 30 or 40 during crisis can be worth a century. b) 1987 world cup, he got the name Iceman. c) Only man who sledged Ambrose and got away with it (barely). d) If you have watched him play (have you?), regardless of how many runs he made, it was clear to opposition and the viewers that he would be tough to get out. I can only think of Kallis in today's time who gives that sense. e) I'll take Dravid's word over yours, thank you very much.

  • on March 13, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    The crisis man was Allan Border

  • hoodbu on March 13, 2013, 4:48 GMT

    I like articles like this that debunk myths.

  • hassan10591 on March 13, 2013, 4:30 GMT

    He made two fifties in the fourth innings of a Test with an average of 25.54 over 31 innings. Australia didn't have to do too much in 4th innings during that period. Ricky Ponting had not got the "great batsman" stauts during that period. Hayden was making a comeback and got to his peak later. It is not always about 100s in crisis. Even a 30 or 40 can get you out of a crisis and allow for the likes of Gilchrist to score later.

  • Ozcricketwriter on March 13, 2013, 3:47 GMT

    Steve Waugh was a first innings man. He did a lot better in the first innings than in the second innings.

  • on March 13, 2013, 3:47 GMT

    simply brilliant analysis!! though it's hard to accept SW anything other than a gritty cricketer who reveled when cornered, looking at these numbers, I've to agree that he didn't probably play a lot of big innings under crisis. I'd probably rate him as a greater captain than a batsman to have under crisis.

    Btw, I loved the word 'Draxman'......awesome!!

  • vinjoy on March 13, 2013, 3:41 GMT

    I dont buy the claim for multiple reasons. One, I recall that in 1998-1999, media would ask two promising cricketers - Dravid and Kallis in two different interviews of what were they looking to emulate in their careers. The answer was same - Steve Waugh. Neither of these two batsmen named Lara or Tendulkar, or anybody else. That was the kind of respect SWaugh had earned from cricketers, for his sheer grit, determination and courage.

    Two, the mere premises that his 100 was accompanied by another 100 by a team player, or the criteria to measure it by a 100, defy all logic. it is flawed. A 45, 63 or 79 at the fall of less than 50 for 3, are always as important but these often miss-out for stats-hungry blog spaces. This is an utter disrespect to the legend.

  • valvolux on March 13, 2013, 3:35 GMT

    Interesting read. I certainly dont remember him as a crisis man in tests - I think he strung together some good "crisis" ODI performances that people probably remember most. If there was ever a crisis man in that era, it was Adam Gilchrist. And when I say crisis, it's difficult to define because a crisis to us Australian's back then was being in danger of being bowled out for under 300, these days a score between 200-300 is looking decent. It would be interesting however for you to do an analysis of Sachin's many hundreds, particularly looking at the case where one or more other batsmen made hundreds in the same innings (indicating a flat track). When you couple those hundreds with those scored against minnows, it tells a tale of a man who scored 95% of his hundreds when the runs were easy to come by. Still not an easy thing to do, but all statistics have their context.

  • valvolux on March 13, 2013, 3:35 GMT

    Interesting read. I certainly dont remember him as a crisis man in tests - I think he strung together some good "crisis" ODI performances that people probably remember most. If there was ever a crisis man in that era, it was Adam Gilchrist. And when I say crisis, it's difficult to define because a crisis to us Australian's back then was being in danger of being bowled out for under 300, these days a score between 200-300 is looking decent. It would be interesting however for you to do an analysis of Sachin's many hundreds, particularly looking at the case where one or more other batsmen made hundreds in the same innings (indicating a flat track). When you couple those hundreds with those scored against minnows, it tells a tale of a man who scored 95% of his hundreds when the runs were easy to come by. Still not an easy thing to do, but all statistics have their context.

  • vinjoy on March 13, 2013, 3:41 GMT

    I dont buy the claim for multiple reasons. One, I recall that in 1998-1999, media would ask two promising cricketers - Dravid and Kallis in two different interviews of what were they looking to emulate in their careers. The answer was same - Steve Waugh. Neither of these two batsmen named Lara or Tendulkar, or anybody else. That was the kind of respect SWaugh had earned from cricketers, for his sheer grit, determination and courage.

    Two, the mere premises that his 100 was accompanied by another 100 by a team player, or the criteria to measure it by a 100, defy all logic. it is flawed. A 45, 63 or 79 at the fall of less than 50 for 3, are always as important but these often miss-out for stats-hungry blog spaces. This is an utter disrespect to the legend.

  • on March 13, 2013, 3:47 GMT

    simply brilliant analysis!! though it's hard to accept SW anything other than a gritty cricketer who reveled when cornered, looking at these numbers, I've to agree that he didn't probably play a lot of big innings under crisis. I'd probably rate him as a greater captain than a batsman to have under crisis.

    Btw, I loved the word 'Draxman'......awesome!!

  • Ozcricketwriter on March 13, 2013, 3:47 GMT

    Steve Waugh was a first innings man. He did a lot better in the first innings than in the second innings.

  • hassan10591 on March 13, 2013, 4:30 GMT

    He made two fifties in the fourth innings of a Test with an average of 25.54 over 31 innings. Australia didn't have to do too much in 4th innings during that period. Ricky Ponting had not got the "great batsman" stauts during that period. Hayden was making a comeback and got to his peak later. It is not always about 100s in crisis. Even a 30 or 40 can get you out of a crisis and allow for the likes of Gilchrist to score later.

  • hoodbu on March 13, 2013, 4:48 GMT

    I like articles like this that debunk myths.

  • on March 13, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    The crisis man was Allan Border

  • luks on March 13, 2013, 5:32 GMT

    a) Its not all about hundreds. What about fifties? Heck, anyone who has played cricket would know that a 30 or 40 during crisis can be worth a century. b) 1987 world cup, he got the name Iceman. c) Only man who sledged Ambrose and got away with it (barely). d) If you have watched him play (have you?), regardless of how many runs he made, it was clear to opposition and the viewers that he would be tough to get out. I can only think of Kallis in today's time who gives that sense. e) I'll take Dravid's word over yours, thank you very much.

  • on March 13, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    Mahesh, a point to note, whether you consider a point of your analysis or crisis or not. Where did all those hundreds come? Your point would carry more credence as it not being a crisis if a lot of them came at home. I am seeing a lot of them on away pitches. And since you picked Lara, Tendulkar and Flower as examples, every team's definition of crisis happens to be different, depending on the team they have on that day.

    Maybe I would not term it as a crisis man, but more like knowing that if the bottom falls out of your batting, there is only so far it can fall out. Like with Dravid, knowing for a fact that whatever happens, you have one end secure. You need to worry only about the other end rather than hemorrhaging wickets at both ends. My 0.02ç though. :)

  • rogan on March 13, 2013, 5:57 GMT

    This article presupposes that fight is only shown in an innings in which in excess of 100 runs are scored. Obviously wrong, but a particularly inappropriate assumption for a player who, as is well known, scored most of his hundreds in matches Australia won (25 out of 32). I simply point out some additional performances that have not been excluded by that stipulation, during a 3 year period of his career:

    94/5 v WI, 3rd Test, SR Waugh 63* out of 128. Only batsman to pass 50 for the test. 96/7 v Ind, Only Test, SR Waugh 67* out of 234 - and only Australian batsman to pass 50 for the test. 96/7 v WI, 2nd test, SR Waugh 58 out of 219 and 37 out of 122. 96/7 v RSA, 3rd test, SR Waugh 67 out of 227 and 60* out of 185. No other Australian scored more than 42.

    A better measure would be to ask opposition players which Australian batsman they were happiest to see the back of when pressing for a (rare) win against Aust from '94 (Border's retirement) to 04. I think that is Dravid's point.