A shocking dismissal

THE business of a leader is to turn weakness into strength. This quality will come from experience and of course your inbuilt talent to provide the guidance. In Steve Waugh, I always saw a man who believed in leading by example and this came so naturally to him. To be told that he is not a good leader anymore is simply not cricket.

A good leader is one who turns obstacles into stepping stones and here too Waugh was a notch above the rest. It was to his credit that he gave his best when the chips were down and that again made him a special member of the Australian team. How could any selector even entertain the idea of sacking Waugh? But this is the bitter truth. Waugh has lost his job as captain of the Australian one-day team. Shocking!

Turning disaster into triumph was a routine job for Waugh. For years he served Australian cricket with distinction and it was a shame that his contribution was brushed aside by selectors who gave more importance to the bonus point which Australia could not win. One bonus point lost decided the fate of such a fantastic leader as Steve Waugh.

Can the Australian selectors find a replacement for the experience of Waugh? The wealth of his experience was the biggest strength because he could always deliver under trying circumstances. His blemishless character was such an asset to Australian cricket, not to forget the fact that Waugh has been one of the finest ambassadors the game has known.

I just cannot understand what prompted the sacking of Waugh as captain. He was so good in channelising the energy of youth and it was this positive aspect of his character that impressed me the most.

Waugh was a master when it came to boosting the confidence of a cricketer affected with failures. Again he was a true leader when it came to inspiring confidence. Look at Justin Langer, Shane Warne, Mark Waugh....all backed by their leader. Waugh stood up for them and backed them all the way. No wonder they worship Waugh for his support.

I doubt if there could be a better role model for kids than Waugh. He has revived Australian cricket with his captaincy and the ability to get the others to perform. We have all known Waugh as a man for a crisis. The way he handles pressure is amazing. At the last World Cup, when all thought Australia was dead and buried, Waugh inspired the side to win the competition. He handled the team so brilliantly.

I fail to understand how the Australian selectors could conclude that Mark Waugh was still good and not his brother. With Matthew Hayden and Langer scoring consistently, the team would not have felt the absence of Mark, but to do without Steve would be tough on the side.

I am so happy that the Indian selectors showed the right attitude by not making any change at the helm. By retaining Sourav Ganguly as captain, the selectors have shown the vision to build a side under the right man. There was no point in changing the captain just for the sake of it and Ganguly should be given the job right till the World Cup.

It takes guts to take the kind of decisions Waugh took. I was very impressed by his decision to stop the business of sending in a nightwatchman. It speaks for the confidence of the man and also speaks for the trust he has in his mates. An epitome of confidence I must say. He is always willing to shoulder the burden so that the others can thrive.

I have always found Waugh a quiet man and have admired his attitude over the years. I would like to recall an incident in the West Indies which convinced me that Waugh was indeed a gritty customer. That famous eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation with Curtly Ambrose was one shot which shall remain frozen in my memory for all time to come.

Waugh showed great courage in taking on a West Indian bowler in the West Indies and that too a bowler of Ambrose's calibre. That day he grew in stature as a leader and a batsman. He did not flinch and slammed a double century. It was a great feat.

Waugh has been a batsman who has scored more matchwinning runs than many. This is one area where he gains one point more than Sachin Tendulkar. Waugh is a master in finishing a match and scoring runs when they really count. He will not score a century in a drawn match, but will come up with a brilliant fifty to win a contest.

Mental toughness has been Waugh's forte and it was reflected early in his career when he would bowl those tight end overs. He was an expert in bowling the last over of the innings, but gradually he shifted his attention to batting.

Cricketers like Waugh lend credibility to the sport and the image of the game can only be enhanced with such men in business. Knowing the man, I am sure he will come back strongly. Waugh may not be indispensable, but an Australian team at the World Cup without Steve Waugh is simply unthinkable. I hope he manages to stage a comeback which would be as dramatic as some of his great deeds on the cricket field.

For me, and many more, Waugh shall remain the senior statesman of international cricket. The Australian selectors have not done any good to anyone by removing Waugh from the helm in one-day cricket. A good leader takes a little more than his share of blame and a little less than his share of credit. Waugh falls in that category.