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Being a cricket aficionado, I grew up watching cricket during my formative years.

Though I am Indian, I was inspired by an Australian cricketer, who is none other
than “Steve Waugh” – one of the greatest captains in the game cricket. He was an
inspirational leader in transforming a good team into a greatest team through
entrusting, mentoring and inculcating values to the team.

Steve Waugh was born on 2nd June 1965 in the Australian Sydney Suburbs. Sports
had been integral part of Steve’s family and he was not an exception in sports. The
major breakthrough came during 1982-83, when he was selected in the Under 19
New South Wales Cricket team. His excellence at the state level secured a place in
the Australian National Cricket Team (Tests, One-Day) at the age of 20.

The calm demeanor and the ease with which he handled pressure situations earned
him a title - “Ice-man” from his team members. He was a key contributor to the
team’s victory in the World cup and was named as Wisden Cricketer (prestigious
award in the cricketing circle) of the year in 1989 for his excellent performance.
Despite his excellence, he lacked consistency and he lost his place in the national
team. His self-introspection, determination and diligence resulted in consistent
performance which resulted in a recall to the national side in the year 1991. From
that moment, the career of Steve never looked back and eventually became
integral part of the team. The Australian Cricket Board identified Steve Waugh as an
emerging leader and worked on grooming his skills to be the successor of the
existing captain.

When Steve Waugh was appointed as captain, the expectations were low and
generally he was expected to perform as any other captain. None would have
expected that he would emerge as a great leader in transforming the game. The
following two incidents were the turning point in the life of Steve Waugh, the
Australian cricket team and the game of cricket. The first incident was during the
World Cup’1999 One Day Internationals, where his team had lost initial matches
and was required to win the next 7 games in order to win the cup. At this juncture,
Steve called for a team meeting and came up with short term goal winning the
World Cup. His effective articulation about each individual’s brilliance and their past
performance instilled confidence in the players. The message was sent clearly to
the players seeking their co-operation and commitment towards the world cup
success. Eventually, the team went on to lift the world cup by winning 6 matches
and tying 1 match. The second incident is with respect to the test matches played
by Australia. He made the team to believe that winning can be an habit and this led
to 16 consecutive Test match victories, which is still a world record.

Steve Waugh was playing more than a role of a captain and was a true leader. His
vision was to transform the good team into a greatest team in the game of cricket.
The mission was to enhance the performance of the team by raising the standards

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from time to time and improve in each aspect at every possible moment and allow
the individuals to excel in their core areas. As an individual, he was trustworthy and
team player. He is an avid reader and valued the local culture of each country and
ensured that the team members appreciate the local culture. Few highly quoted
examples are the visit to the War memorial during the tour of England and visit to
the slums in Mumbai during India tour.

The other noteworthy characteristic was that he always maintained his composure
and never lost his temper. His ability to read the match situation, determine the
opposition weakness and take appropriate decisions had helped the team to reach
greater heights. Was Steve a game changer? Till late 1990’s, test matches would
end up in a draw (neither winning nor losing) and the public were starting to lose
interest. Steve ensured that his team always played for victory and tried to produce
a result. He also made sure that the Australian team scores runs at a faster pace in
order to facilitate in producing results. The other teams are following the same
approach these days to retain interest.

Steve had the knack of spotting talent, selecting and retaining the right team
member. For example, in the year 1999, Steve brought Matthew Hayden (who was
dropped in 1994) into the team, who eventually became the most destructive
opening batsman feared by the opponents. Another player Justin Langer was on the
verge of getting dropped from the team due to bad form. However, Steve Waugh
gave sufficient time and opportunities to regain his form. The entrustment by Steve
Waugh on other players brought the best out of them. Steve Waugh respected
every team member, trusted in their abilities, provided ample opportunities for the
players to prove and allowed them to display their talent in the tough situations. He
nurtured a team that handled tough situations, faced the adversity and overcame
the same. Through this approach, Steve earned the respect and trust of his team
members. Repeatedly the team had snatched victories from the jaws of defeat. This
resulted in a famous saying that “Victory against Australia is not sure until the last
ball is bowled/last wicket is taken”.

The introduction of new culture in the team resulted in more cohesiveness,

commitment and responsibility among the team members. Steve Waugh ensured
that all the team members wear the national cap in the match to display the pride
in playing for their nation. At the end of each victory, the entire team sung the song
of victory. A new person joining the team is presented with the national cap by the
senior member to indicate the togetherness and reiterate the pride of playing for
the national team. This cap distribution ceremony is being followed by the other
cricketing nations.

All the above activities led the team to the pinnacle of one of the greatest teams in
the history of the cricket and were ranked No.1 in all forms of the game. However,
his continuous led to increase in the level of arrogance in the cricketing field. The
arrogance led to tactical mistakes in the field and Steve could not win a series in

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India, which is a missing brick in the wall of his achievement. One has to learn to
control the level of arrogance in the wake of continuous success.

Apart from cricketing life, Steve Waugh was associated with “Udayan” complex in
the outskirts of Kolkata in India that houses children from the leper community to
help in their health, education, food and clothing. Steve has been actively engaged
and is working towards creating awareness and raising money. In Australia, he is
associated with the Spastic centre in helping young people.

Thus, the description of my leader, who was influential, inspirational leader in the
last decade helped the team in reaching the glory and assist the individuals in
achieving landmarks.


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