July 5, 1999
From Bat to Verse
The tough talking captain Steve Waugh used every device to inspire his team to victory. Even poetry.
By Rohit Brijnath
Sleep wouldn't come. Indeed, it hadn't for many days. In Manchester, after the miracle against South Africa, he tossed, he turned, then at 4.30 a.m. gave up and watched highlights of the match. Today, World Cup final day, ensconced in London's Royal Garden Hotel, he awoke at 2.30 a.m., the adrenaline flooding his veins. Perhaps it was fortuitous, for this morning was his turn, to write the poem that would be recited to the team after practice. And so captain Steve Waugh, man of some steel but also of an invisible soul, sat and wrote:
"Well, here we are at the home of W.G. Grace
It's taken something special for us to arrive at this place
We've watched swampy Marsh tick off his tattered road to Lord's
It's our destiny, make no mistake
Unlike his spelling on the blackboards
The path has been littered with courage and character
It's now time to kick some ass starting with Shoaib Akhtar
So let's make a pact to fight as only we can
And show the ANZAC spirit where it all began
It will be a time we'll never forget
And one where we can all say I've got no regret
I can't wait to get the goose bumps from head to hand
As Punter (Ponting) shouts, "Underneath the Southern Cross I stand."
Yes, yes, the very phrase Australian cricket poet smells of an oxymoron. It is though an unexpected measure of a complicated man. But wait, we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Victory always exaggerates a captain's virtues. It is the way of sport. Waugh, we were told, was as humourless as a defrocked priest, unburdened by any gift of inspiration. Yet perhaps we missed something about him. He certainly thinks so, even writing pointedly in his column prior to the final, "Tubby (Mark Taylor) was a great captain but he seems to have become better since he retired." Perhaps too in the mesh of...