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The Bob Simpson home truth that led to Steve Waugh’s greatest Test innings

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

 Steve Waugh, while in conversation with Michael Atherton on Sky Sports, recalled the story behind his double hundred against West Indies during Australia’s tour to the Caribbean in 1995.

Australia, under the leadership of Mark Taylor, started the four-Test series with a comprehensive 10-wicket win but lost their way after.
The second Test finished in a draw and the hosts hit back in the third, winning the match by nine wickets.

With Australia getting bowled out for 128 & 105 in the third Test of the series in Trinidad, the onus was on the batsmen to turn things around for the side. The then-Australia head coach Bobby Simpson, as Waugh revealed, called out his batsmen to step up and “get a big hundred.”

“The West Indies innings, I guess was the making of me as a player and probably goes back to Bob Simpson,” Waugh said. “He doesn’t get a lot of credit. After the first couple of Tests, he sat our group of batsmen down and he said ‘This is not good enough. Somewhere, one of you guys has to go and get a big hundred, and we said ‘Well, hang on look, why don’t you go and try this, those four quicks, and we are doing our best’.

“But I walked away from that meeting, I was on a beach in Antigua or Barbados or somewhere, and I thought, ‘Maybe there is something in what he is saying here. Are we tough enough? Can we break through and get that big score?’”

As it turned out, Waugh went on to play arguably the most important knock of his career in the fourth Test in Jamaica. His double hundred and brother Mark’s 126-run knock propelled Australia to a score of 531 as they won the Test by an innings and 53 runs, and claimed the series honours with it.

“That happened in the 200 in Jamaica,” he added. “Sometimes you’ve got to be sat down and told the truth and that was it – we were probably a little bit soft and we could do better. And getting that 200 was probably the highlight of my batting career. Up against the best team in the world that had been unbeaten for 15 years. We hadn’t beaten them for 22 years, it was 1-1. The most significant Test, on their home ground, against the best side.

“All those sacrifices and training and effort and Mark and myself both got hundreds so it was almost like batting in the backyard 30-odd years before. It all came together when we got runs in the tough conditions.”

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