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Well Within the Comfort Zone

T.C.A. Madhava Raghavan

By Steve Waugh
Viking/Penguin, New Delhi, 2005, pp. xiii 801, price not stated.


A career spanning 168 tests, 325 one- day internationals, approximately 19,000 international runs, 35 centuries, and almost 300 wickets. If ever a movie were made about a career this long and successful, it would run for many hours. The prospects for it are good: the potential screenplay allows for just that. With a book of over 800 pages, Steve Waugh has paced his autobiography slowly and deliberately – almost like he paced his career.   You would think, given the size of the book, he would have a lot to say. Instead, like some of his innings in the middle, most of it can seemingly be skipped without losing the central theme. Always known to be a man unafraid to air his views, it is strange to see him appear reluctant to do so here. While he is descriptive and candid about his personal ups and downs through his career, he doesn’t say too much about issues that have affected the game over the last two decades.   For example, he writes only a few – uninformative – pages on the match-fixing episodes. It is almost as if he finds the subject so distasteful that he cannot bear to talk about it. But perhaps that is the impression he is trying to convey. We don’t learn anything new, except maybe that he was “shocked to the core” when he found out that Mohammad Azharuddin and Hansie Cronje were involved. He ends the section by saying, almost detachedly, “Some mysteries were solved, but many questions remain unanswered. Was it just players involved, or did umpires and administrators play a role? Perhaps only time and someone’s conscience will tell.” We had rather hoped you could help, Mr Waugh.   He is a little more frank, however, when it comes to the third-umpire issue. Although seemingly in favour of it when it comes to line decisions, he is clear that he doesn’t want to see the technology extended to, say, LBWs. “People love to discuss… controversial decisions because it makes them feel intimately involved with the game. To take away the human element would be to ‘Americanize’ the game, slowing it down through the unnecessary re-viewing of replays, which in turn stops the flow and momentum of a match.” This is a view which has found much resonance amongst fans across the world.   We also get an insight into the mind that, in the tradition of Australian captains starting with Allan ...

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