Shane Warne and Steve Waugh were faces of the dominant Australian team of the late 1990’s that was led by the latter but their relationship has famously soured over the years. The rift arose from when Waugh decided to drop Warne for Australia’s tour of the West Indies in 1999 and the 55-year-old recently explained how he reached to the conclusion of omitting his best spinner from the fourth and final Test.
“It was my first tour as captain to West Indies. As a captain you are expected to make difficult decisions. That’s why you are given the job. You are not there to please everyone. I always wanted to be loyal to be my players to a certain point, but at the end of the day, you gotta be loyal to the team and their performance,” Waugh said in a conversation with former England captain Mike Atherton on Sky Sports.
“I, sort of, approached it with Shane before the Test match. Before the match, we had a function, so we had a live chat and I mentioned a few things. It wasn’t a complete shot and the next day I went to a team meeting. It was Geoff Marsh, Shane Warne and me.
“Back in those days, when you are on tour, the two players and the coach picked the team, the selectors didn’t have anything to do with it. I found it strange, because you had selectors picking team for series at home, but on away tours it was up to the captain to basically make the decision.A
“Warnie had just come back from a shoulder surgery. I think he was put back into the team too quickly. We had both Stuart Macgill and him in the previous Test, turning the ball the same way. Lara, and all the left-handers were hitting with the spin, and I just thought it was the right decision,” he added.
Waugh admitted that dropping Warne would never be a popular decision and his credentials as captain would have been questioned had Australia lost the series. The series was eventually a 2-2 draw.
“You’ve got to trust your get instinct sometimes. Other people are always going to have their opinions. It was never going to be a popular decision, and had we lost the Test, my head would have been on the chopping blocks, but thankfully we won the Test and ended up drawing the series,” he said.