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April 5, 2001
A leader's success is largely determined by his ability to motivate others. Steve Waugh has been a successful captain for all the right reasons. Once Napolean Bonaparte said, "Victory belongs to the most persevering." And persevere he did with Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne all through the series in India. He would have none of the wisdom that said that the two players have lost their zing and zeal to do well against the Indians. Steve Waugh understood the reality; all he had to do was to give these blokes some time.
Ricky Ponting would have been dropped had he been playing for any team under any captain, but not Steve Waugh. He had the faith in the ability of his warrior from Tasmania. He has seen it all before, the fire of passion for the game in his eyes. That is what the captain remembers, the pride of leading a bunch of honest, hardworking men. At the press conference after the Vishakapatnam One-Day match, Steve Waugh was asked to comment on Ponting's brilliant century. After all, it was Waugh who dared to keep his faithful soldier in the team.
Steve said, "He is too good a player. In international cricket you have the ups and downs. But as long as you support your players and have faith in them, you know they'll comeback eventually. He has worked hard at the nets for the last couple of days. Full credit to him. Though he started a bit scratchy today, once he had time in the middle, he played very well. He is a class player, you know that he is going to come through eventually. You just have to persevere when he is through a bad trot."
For his part, Ponting has been working hard on his game too, by watching TV replays with his good mate Matthew Hayden and trying to rectify the problems he had. "My natural movement is to go on the front foot and across. I was just going straight across and not forward and blocking everything out. Once you go there with your foot closed off, you can't go anywhere else and I was getting stuck at the crease. I worked hard for couple of days and it paid off today."
Ponting is the kind of man any captain would like to have in his team. He has the never say die attitude even in the toughest of the moments of his life. He had the will to go through the series of failures and then to fight hard and to prove his captain right. They do say the captain is only as good as the players he has. Ponting was quick to show gratitude to his captain, "Steven said right from the start that he is going to back the batters that he had. I was lucky enough to play the first One-Day game. My form going into the OD was pretty ordinary."
Australia lost the Test series in India, the 'final frontier' slipped from Steve Waugh's grasp and he lost the services of his twin brother who had to return home with a fractured finger. All the same, Steve Waugh stands tall amongst the contemporary captains for the simple reason that he believes in his team.
We lose sight of the most important factors that lead to successful leadership: commitment, a passion to make a difference, a vision for achieving positive change, and the courage to take action. Steve Waugh is seeking a new paradigm for the game through the rotation policy.
Waugh wanted people to understand that there will always be the sceptics who will raise such issues when the team is losing and that he did not hear any complaints after the handsome victory. "We have got 14 very good players and I believe that any 11 that we put out on the park, we expect to win. We don't want one player making all the running, we are going to share the load, that is the system we have put in place. There is always going to be some resistance to changes and new ideas".
Matthew Hayden, the most successful batsman on this tour of India in both forms of the game, agrees with his captain. He says, " I definitely support the rotation system. Towards the latter half of the Test series I was starting to feeling tired. And, then there were two innings straight up in the first two One-Day games, I was feeling mentally jaded." The last few days has been excellent. I haven't gone to the nets or done anything particular. It has been just rest. I think with the current structure, the way cricket is going to be played over the next decade, I think you going to see this (rotation system) in all forms of cricket. Guys are going to be mentally and physically worn out. With the rotation system in place, Australia is lucky to have a wealth of talent around."
Steve Waugh still leads his men with all the courage and grace under fire, putting faith in the ability of each player and trying to seek the `karma' of his team. Waugh and his men exemplify the immortal words by Walt Disney: "If you can dream it, you can do it."
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