Replacing his brother Steve in a star-studded batting line-up in the fourth Ashes Test of 1991, Mark Waugh scored a fluent 138 on debut to announce himself to the world of Test cricket.
He’d already been in Australia’s one-day side since 1988 when Waugh was called up to face England in the fourth Test at Adelaide in 1991.
Two-nil up with two to play, Australia still saw fit to make a change. Scores of 1, 19, 48 and 14 for the side’s incumbent number six made a compelling case for mixing things up. But that made things no more straightforward for his replacement. It was to be no ordinary debut. Circumstances had conspired to see Mark replace twin brother Steve in the batting order.
Taking guard with his side wobbling on 104-4, Waugh was sixth out with his side on 295. His 138 from 188 balls included 18 fours, none of which bore any of the trademark ‘huff’ of his brother, owing everything to touch, timing and balance.
Waugh was a stylist. Few have deflected the ball into the leg-side with less fuss and more effect. England’s pace attack of DeFreitas, Malcolm, Small and Fraser was treated to many examples of the like.
Australia’s first-innings lead of 157 did not prove telling in the end. Gooch and Atherton’s second innings opening partnership of 203 put paid to that. But it was the most emphatic calling card. He played a further 127 Tests. And never did he play better.
Another Waugh brother had taken to Test cricket. He wasn’t a better player than his ‘elder’ brother, but in every way, he was better looking – even more so after a covert nose job.
First published in 2009