Shane Warne Says 'Inflexible' Steve Waugh Was Wrong In Enforcing Follow-on In 2001 Historic Test

Shane Warne Says ‘Inflexible’ Steve Waugh Was Wrong In Enforcing Follow-on In 2001 Historic Test

Shane Warne, former Australian leg-spinner, has revealed that he was against the decision of then Australian captain Steve Waugh who enforced the follow-on on India during the second Test played at famous Eden Gardens in 2001. Australia won 16 matches on the trot and came to Kolkata only after winning the first test by a commendable 10 wickets in Mumbai.

But Australia lost the match despite scoring 445 and bundling India to a paltry 171.  In the second innings India was reduced to 232/4 but VVS Laxman who scored 281 and Rahul Dravid who contributed 180 batted throughout the fourth day as India reached 657/7 and declared before bundling Australia for 212 to win the second test by 171 runs. India won the next test by 2 wickets to pocket the series 2-1.

VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid.
VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid. Credits: Twitter

Shane Warne Feels The Test Could Have Been Different If Australia Led By Steve Waugh Not Enforced Follow On

India came back in the historic thrilling Test despite following on after conceding a 274-run lead in the first innings to sensationally draw the series and won the Test by 171 runs, denying Australia a record 17th consecutive Test win. The major performers for India were the duo of VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid whose 376-run stand took India to a superior position before spinner Harbhajan Singh ran through Australia to secure a famous victory. It is to mention Harbhajan Singh became the first Indian to take a Test hat-trick in Australia’s first innings.

steve waugh and sourav ganguly
Sourav Ganguly and Steve Waugh. Credits: Twitter

Shane Warne believes that the result would have been different had Australia simply decided to bat again instead of enforcing the follow-on. He said Steve Waugh, then the Australia captain, with whom he had a tense love and hate relationship, made the wrong call by enforcing the follow-on in his eagerness to claim the record-breaking 17th win.

“It’s completely different conditions [to the ongoing England Test],” he said on commentary for Sky Sports during the England-Pakistan Test, when Zak Crawley and Jos Buttler put on a 359-run stand.

Shane Warne spoke on the sidelines of the third test between England and Pakistan when Zak Crawley and Jos Buttler stitched a 359 run stand. While Zak Crawley scored a double century, wicket-keeper batsman Jos Buttler scored

“It was 45 degrees, we’d been out on the field for a long time, the wicket was going to get worse. I think at that time, I remember Steve Waugh coming out to us bowlers … [Jason] Gillespie, think [Glenn] McGrath, myself and I think [Michael] Kasprowicz was there.”

Glenn McGrath took 4 wickets while Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz and Shane Warne contributed to the team’s cause by taking 2 wickets each as India folded on 171.

“And as we saw happened, seven down, eight down, nine down … he comes and… ‘How’re you feeling?’ and McGrath was like, ‘I’m a bit weary’. I was like, ‘Weary, let’s use that word’. Then we have Dizzy and Kaspa. Kaspa had only played a few games, a few overs [he bowled 13 that innings, seven fewer than Warne], and he was a bit like, ‘Let’s go, skip, I’m ready to go!’”

But they were made to toil by Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman as unlike the first innings where only 4 bowlers were used, a vast number of 9 bowlers bowled trying to break the partnership. Glenn McGrath bowled 39, Jason Gillespie bowled 31, Michael Kasprowicz bowled 35 and Shane Warne bowled 34 overs.

“And I was like, ‘Come on, Kaspa’. It was completely different conditions back then, and Steve Waugh was adamant that he wanted to win that record amount of Test matches in a row, I think it was 17. To me, it was the only way India could win that Test match. If we go and bat again, make the 200 – the lead was 450 [474] – they try to defend it, it’s a different game. So, yeah. I thought he got that wrong.”

The task became more difficult as batting on the fifth and final day on a spinning track is considered to be a headache for any team. Steve Waugh was possibly in a hurry to win the test and wrap up the series, but he probably forgot that they were playing in conditions different from Australia or England.

Shane Warne Mentions VVS Laxman Played A Gem Of An Innings While Rahul Dravid Played An Extraordinary Knock

The Indian spin attack was without veteran Anil Kumble as Sourav Ganguly shone as a captain by bringing back Harbhajan Singh who took India’s first Test hat-trick in the first innings of the historic 2nd Test but despite that Australia took a huge first-innings lead. But an epic partnership set Australia an imposing target of 384 to win. Australia collapsed from 166/3 to 212 all out.

“But they played beautifully, Laxman and Dravid. In my time of playing, [it was] as good an innings as there was. Laxman’s innings was beautiful, Dravid’s was too. Sometimes you’ve got to dig down and say, ‘Too good’.”

Shane Warne and Steve Waugh were involved in a debate earlier this year when Shane Warne repeated the comments he made in autobiography, that Steve Waugh was the “most selfish” cricketer he played with.

Waugh responded saying, “His comments are a reflection of himself, nothing to do with me. That’s all I’d say.”

Shane Warne has 708 Test wicket and is only behind Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan who has 800 wickets to his name but is known for controversies before taking retirement in 2013 from all forms of cricket. His last ODI and test came in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Shane Warne published his autobiography in 2006 which was titled ‘My Illustrated Career’.