on 30 December 2001
Stubborn, arrogant, a born winner and fervently patriotic are all terms which describe not only record test winning captain Steve Waugh but also the side he captains. All these themes run strongly through this book.
For an Englishman a book about another Ashes defeat, this time 4-1 at home, would be a less than enjoyable read. Waugh has, however, produced a thoroughly entertaining read for all cricket and sports fans.
The latest in the current Australian captain's diaries series has been extended beyond its original brief to cover Australia's three test series in India which immediately preceded the Ashes tour and which brought to an end the Aussies world record 16 test winning run.
The book, in addition to providing the expected captain's diary, deals with many other issues; in depth analysis of opponents, the author's own approach to motivation and captaincy, the English press, Indian cricket fans, one-day floodlit games in England and the crowd control problems at those one-day games are all dealt with at length.
Waugh is honest and forthright in his views throughout, if I had to criticise I would stress two things. Firstly, his irritating insistence, in common with many sportsmen, of using nicknames at every opportunity wore me down after a while. Secondly it would have been nice if he could, just occasionally, take of those yellow and green tinted spectacles.
The book on the whole is a delight, Waugh has many interesting views on cricket, captaincy and the role of motivation and psychology in modern test cricket which make fascinating reading.
This book is not all cricket; the tourists visit to Anzac Cove, Gallipoli en route to England is covered in some detail and referred back to by the team at crucial times of the tour. Bon Jovi, U2 and a visit to the epic men's singles final at Wimbledon all feature as does Waugh's other side, rarely seen in public as a husband and father.
The highlight for me however is right at the end. Waugh's battle to recover from a double hamstring tear on 4th August batting at Trent Bridge to be fit to captain the tourists in the final test two and a half week's later. Waugh takes us from the despair and agony of leaving the field on a stretcher and being in hospital when the Ashes were retained through the pain and despair of his battle to be fit and through to the unbeaten 157 in that final test.
I have to say, even for an Englishman to an Aussie, what a cricketer, captain and man.