The pair are exchanging heated words 16 years after they last played together, and a former teammate has pinpointed the exact moment their fiery feud began.
The pair are exchanging heated words 16 years after they last played together, and a former teammate has pinpointed the exact moment their fiery feud began.

Legend weighs in on bitter 21-year feud

FORMER Australian captain Mark Taylor has identified when the bitter feud between Shane Warne and Steve Waugh first erupted.

During Australia's tour of the West Indies in 1999 - which happened to be Waugh's first Test series as national captain - the visitors were trailing 2-1, and needed nothing less than a victory in the final match at St. John's to retain the coveted Frank Worrell Trophy.

Warne was coming back from injury and performing far from his best - in the opening three matches, the leg spinner had claimed two wickets at an average of 134. In comparison, teammate Stuart MacGill had taken seven wickets at 35.43.

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Trinidadian great Brian Lara - who went on to be named Player of the Series - had been particularly destructive when facing the two wrist spinners, and Waugh decided finger spinner Colin Miller should be selected for the final Test.

Warne therefore lost his spot in the side, which Taylor believes ignited the ongoing 21-year rivalry.

"They're not best mates, there's no doubt about that. But when they played together … they were fine," Taylor said.

"Steve had to make a decision for the last Test against the West Indies in 1999 between his two leg spinners … Warnie was coming back from a shoulder injury and not bowling at his best.

"For the final Test match, Steve went with MacGill and left Warne out, and that certainly irked Shane Warne at the time, and I don't think he's ever forgiven him."

Shane Warne with Steve Waugh in 1999.
Shane Warne with Steve Waugh in 1999.

In the end, Waugh's decision proved a masterstroke. Australia won the final Test by 176 runs, drawing the series and retaining the Frank Worrell Trophy. Colin Miller finished with commendable match figures of 3/66 off 38 overs, and even chipped in with a quick-fire 43 in the first innings.

Australia has not lost a Test series against the West Indies since.

Despite the victory in St. John's, Taylor thought the decision to drop Warne - who was a few months later named one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Century - was a mistake.

"At the time, no. I didn't think it was (the correct decision)," Taylor said.

"If you had to make a decision between the two leggies, which I think Australia had to do at that stage because Lara was playing so well, I'd have gone for the guy who's been great for so long, even though he wasn't at his best.

"Must-win game, I would've gone with Shane Warne."

In his 2018 autobiography No Spin, Warne admitted he felt "deeply disappointed" with Waugh's controversial decision.

"Disappointed is not a strong enough word. When the crunch came, (Waugh) didn't support me, and I felt so totally let down by someone who I had supported big time and was also a good friend," Warne wrote.

"Looking back, this was probably a combination of the shoulder issue still eating away at me and the pure anger bubbling inside at Steve's lack of trust. During the first three Tests, at various times some of the bowlers came to me, grumbling about (Waugh's) captaincy and field placements and stuff. I said I was backing him to the hilt and if they had a problem with the captain they should go see him direct.

"Perhaps because of this, I was deeply disappointed that he didn't back me in return."

Steve Waugh with Shane Warne at a training session.
Steve Waugh with Shane Warne at a training session.

DILEMMA FROM WORLD CUP'S IMMINENT CANCELLATION

The Men's T20 Cricket World Cup is under threat of cancellation due to the coronavirus epidemic, and Cricket Australia is frantically assessing how to organise next summer's schedule.

If October's World Cup is cancelled, there is a high possibility the Indian Primer League will occupy the vacant gap in the cricket calendar.

However, this means the Australian cricket stars who received lucrative multimillion-dollar IPL contracts will be double-booked. The home summer of cricket and IPL have never clashed before, and there is lingering uncertainty about what action Cricket Australia should take if the situation arises.

As the BCCI essentially controls global cricket, Taylor believes Cricket Australia's best option is to allow Australia's players to compete in the IPL and avoid any potential bad blood with the powerhouse nation.

Virat Kohli's team is scheduled to tour Australia next summer, a Test series which is reportedly worth $300 million in broadcast revenue for Cricket Australia.

"My feeling is the World T20 will not go ahead in Australia in October as planned, and therefore that opens up that window," Taylor said.

"The Cricket Australia Board will want to keep India happy, so they may want to let the players go to India if the IPL goes ahead, because they want India to come here this summer and play in what is going to be out biggest summer in terms of dollars.

"Cricket Australia would like the opportunity for (the players) to do both, provided India come to Australia and cricket in this country continues to thrive."


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