Mark Waugh was cricket made classy.
The twin brother of Aussie captain Steve, ‘Junior’ was one of the world’s most elegant and gifted stroke-makers. His game was characterised by an ability to drive, cut, pull and loft the ball so effortlessly that it could make him look disdainful of the talents of bowlers.
Mark Taylor called Waugh “the best-looking leg-side player I’ve seen in my time. . . . Anything drifting into his pads is hit beautifully.” Junior made his name as a middle-order player for New South Wales, twice winning the Sheffield Shield Cricketer of the Year title. He was finally picked for his Test debut in 1991 against England in the Fourth Test at the Adelaide Oval, ironically at the expense of his out-of-form brother. Waugh came to the crease on the first day with Australia in trouble at 4/104 and the situation deteriorated to 5/126 when Greg Matthews joined him at the crease. Junior brought up his century with a square drive close to stumps. Phil Wilkins of the SMH wrote that “Such a maiden Test century could hardly have been surpassed for commanding presence.”
To complement his batting skills, Junior was a handy part-time bowler and a wonderful fieldsman – he had few rivals to match his freakish brilliance in the field.
Mark Waugh is a familiar TV face these days. His easy-going manner and sense of humour make him a classy choice as a guest speaker.