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Steve Waugh

Stephen Rodger Waugh (b. June 2, 1965) is the current (2002) captain of the Australian Test cricket team.

Making his debut as an all-rounder complimenting his batting with handy medium pace, Steve came into the Australian one-day and test teams in the summer of 1985-86 (against New Zealand and India respectively), at one of the lowest ebbs the Australian team had reached with a succession of series losses. He proved crucial in both fields in Australia's surprise win in the 1987 World Cup.

His batting began to deliver on its promise when Australia regained the Ashes in 1989, with his first test century finally arriving after a succession of scores in the nineties. However, a run of poor form led to his being dropped from the Australian side in 1992, ironically to be replaced by his twin brother Mark Waugh.

Returning to the team against the West Indies in 1992-93, Steve built a reputation throughout the 1990s as perhaps the most solid batsman in world cricket. Lacking the attacking flair of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, his reputation for strength of will saw him make many centuries for his team, often under pressure and batting with the tailenders. Waugh's ability to continue to play despite a back injury that largely prevented him bowling further enhanced that reputation. Waugh, along with the bowling of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath[?], provided perhaps the major foundation upon which the Australian team rose to become what was widely regarded as the best team in the world by the mid-1990s.

Waugh took over the captaincy of the one-day side in 1997-98, as planning began for the 1999 World Cup. Producing several reasonable scores in a side struggling early, Waugh saved his best for two crucial games against South Africa, scoring 120 against South Africa in the last game of the "Super Six" to ensure Australia's progression to the semi-final, and then 56 in the semi, which was tied.

Upon the retirement of Mark Taylor in 1999, Waugh assumed the test captaincy, and turned an already successful side into a dominant one that in many cricket watchers' views ranks with Sir Donald Bradman's 1948 Invincibles and the West Indian teams of the 1980s as one of the best cricket teams of all time. Steve Waugh's ruthless approach has led to a succession of drubbings of hapless, outclassed opposition and a record run of 16 consecutive Test match wins, easily eclipsing the previous record of 10 by the West Indies.

Waugh lost the one-day captaincy, and indeed a spot in the one-day side, in 2001-2, but in typical style, declared that he wished to regain a place in the team (though most observers regard that at 38 and with a large queue of worthy players also unable to get a place his recall is unlikely).

Waugh departs from the distinctly Anglocentric, ockerish, and politically conservative traditions of Australian cricket in his interest in India. Waugh helps to raise funds for a leper colony there—whilst hardly a novel thing for a celebrity to do, it is highly novel for an Australian cricketer. He reportedly also encourages his players to learn about and enjoy the countries they visit and play in—presumably partly to reduce the siege mentality of some previous Australian teams playing in south Asia, but also seemingly for a genuine desire to use cricket to build bridges.

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