Former Australia captain Steve Waugh was at the forefront of Australia’s rise as a super power in world cricket. After leading Australia to their second World Cup title in 1999, Waugh was the captain that was responsible for the word ‘mighty’ to get added almost as a prefix to describe the Australian team of the early 2000s. Under him, Australia won 16 consecutive Test matches in a row, From October 14, 1999 to 27 February 2001.
Waugh came to India in 2001, terming it as the final frontier in what remains one of the most iconic Test series between the two sides. After racing to a dominating win in Mumbai, Waugh’s Australia was on the cusp of winning another Test series before two of India’s greatest batsmen VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid changed the course of the tide, to an extent that from the doors of defeat, India registered one of their most famous Test wins in history.
Which is why Waugh can probably never forget at least one of those two batsmen. The former Australia captain, in a video released by Cricket Australia, explained how Dravid was equally responsible for India’s rise as a strong side in the 2000s, calling him a player on par with the great Sachin Tendulkar. Not limiting his huge praises for the wall, Waugh feels Dravid was the ‘glue’ that held the Indian batting together.
“He was unflappable, fierce concentration, there was no point in trying to ruffle his feathers because you couldn’t do it,” Waugh said in the video. “He was the glue who held them all together and the one banker they had in the side. I knew he was going to score runs, I knew he could occupy the crease and he could repel quality bowling which quality players can do. If he stepped up the gear he could play shots as good as any one, he was a world class player and equally hard to overcome as Tendulkar was.”
Waugh’s final Test series was one of Dravid’s finest – the 2003/04 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, in which India’s former No. 3 batsman tallied 619 runs at an incredible average of 123.80 with three fifties and a hundred. The double century he scored at Adelaide gave India their first win on Australian soil after 22 years. The series ended in a 1-1 draw with Dravid emerging as India’s biggest positive.
“His concentration and defence were impregnable when he wanted to be and he had that fierce competitive attitude too, the big games really excited him, that’s when he played his best,” Waugh added. “Once he got in, it was so hard. Obviously, the most famous (innings of Dravid) is Kolkata win, he and Laxman batted all day. Pretty much turned the Test around. That was an unwinnable Test match.”
Waugh termed Dravid as important as Tendulkar, pointing out how the two were instrumental in forming possibly what is remembered as India’s best batting line-up. “He was as important to the Indian side as was Sachin Tendulkar. Those guys formed the heart of what was probably India’s best batting line-up,” he said.