Former Australian cricketer Steve Waugh has heaped praise on Harbhajan Singh, stating that he had the same spirit and aggression as Aussies. He even didn’t mince a word to say that if the spinner hadn’t played in the historic Australia tour of India in 2001, his side would have easily won the series.
Harbhajan Singh hasn’t yet retired from international cricket but he last played for India in 2016. He has featured in 103 Tests, 236 ODIs and 28 T20Is. The off-spinner is in the elite club of bowlers who have 400 Test wickets in their name. Besides this, he has 269 ODI wickets, which include two four-wicket hauls and three five-wicket hauls.
Speaking to Cricket Australia, Steve Waugh admitted that playing against Harbhajan was like facing the Aussies themselves, which caused problems for them. As per him, he tried to get on the nerves of Aussies with his aggressive talks and behaviour.
“He played in the same vein, the same spirit and the same method as we did. That’s probably why we found him a bit prickly because it was like playing against ourselves in the opposition. He played cricket the Aussie way. He was in your face, a bit of talk, aggressive, positive and he backed himself,” he said.
Steve Waugh explained that what makes Harbhajan a successful spinner. He said that his bounce bamboozled them. Notably, The finger spinner usually reserved his best for Australia and has claimed 95 Test wickets against the team.
“He wasn’t a traditional off-spinner. He got a bit overspin and bounce. It wasn’t always the sharp turn, but the subtle variations and bounce. Got caught bat-pad pretty regularly off him,” said Steve Waugh.
Without Harbhajan Singh, we would have won the series: Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh has fully credited Harbhajan Singh in helping India win the 2001 Test series, which is one of the memorable encounters between the two. India broke Australia’s 16-match winning streak in the extended format. The off-spinner picked 32 wickets at an average of 17.03 as the Aussies struggled to read him. He also took a famous Test hat-trick, dismissing Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, and Shane Warne during the 2001 Kolkata Test to achieve the feat.
“He won the series for India in 2001. 32 wickets in 3 Tests. We just couldn’t counteract his bounce. He got this amazing bounce off the length. Every spell he bowled against, he dominated us. Incredible strike rate bowled a lot of overs and was consistent. Hayden probably took him on and did well, but the rest of us really couldn’t find a way to get on top of him. Without him, we would have won the series. A very influential figure, particularly against us,” Waugh concluded.
Meanwhile, India and Australia are playing another enthralling Tests series, which is levelled so far with 1-1. The final and fourth Test match of the series, which will be played in Brisbane, will decide the fate of the series.