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Ashes 2019: Steve Waugh Rejoins Australia Team in Manchester as Mentor

Former Australia captain Steve Waugh rejoined the support staff of the team for the rest of the Ashes series, starting with the fourth Test in Manchester later this week, continuing his role as the team’s mentor.

Cricketnext Staff |September 2, 2019, 3:04 PM IST
Ashes 2019: Steve Waugh Rejoins Australia Team in Manchester as Mentor

Former Australia captain Steve Waugh rejoined the support staff of the team for the rest of the Ashes series, starting with the fourth Test in Manchester later this week, continuing his role as the team’s mentor.

Waugh arrived in Manchester on Sunday (September 1) night local time ahead of the fourth Test at Old Trafford, returning to the Australian camp having spent the first month on tour before heading home after the Lord's Test.

The 168-Test veteran relished his first stint back in the Australian setup for 15 years since retiring in 2004 and would have stayed with the Aussies had it not been for prior commitments.

"We asked him to stay for the third Test, but he had to go back for a function," team coach Justin Langer told the media.

"But he was actually going to fly there, do the function and fly back the next day. That's how much he's enjoying it. He's been like a kid at Christmas.

"To come back after such a long time away from the game, his passion and enthusiasm for the game has been brilliant and it's going to be great."

The elder of the Waugh twins is part of a long line of greats who have been welcomed into the national camp stretching back to Darren Lehmann's tenure as head coach. Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden and Mitchell Johnson to name a few have passed on their expertise and insight both home and abroad.

This year, Waugh (Ashes) and Ponting (World Cup) have been officially employed by Cricket Australia, which Langer says will benefit his players in the present and future.

"Guys like 'Punter' (Ponting) and Steve Waugh, not only have they got a great presence within the group but they're great psychologists as well," Langer said.

"They've been in the cauldron before, they've seen it before. We talk about developing our leadership in Australian cricket, to have your guys being able to learn from people of that calibre is very important short term, but longer term there's huge value in that," the former Australian Test opener said.

Waugh has held similar mentoring positions with other sporting teams and organisations, including Australia's Olympic team for the 2008 games in Beijing and 2012 in London. While he can be seen hitting catches at training, he says he operates individually with the players in more casual settings.

"A lot of my work is done in the nets or in the hotel or going for a walk in the morning," Waugh said after the Lord's Test.

"It's observing with fresh eyes and if I can get the players more confident and relaxed, I see that as my role. And also for the coaching staff and people around the team, sometimes you're with the same people for a long period of time and you do the same things over and over again.

"It's good for someone to come in and just check it out from a different point of view and see things a little bit differently," he added.

Waugh's return to the Australian team for the Manchester Test could be a good omen. It was at Old Trafford 30 years ago where Australia won the Ashes on English soil for the first time since 1975; Waugh made 92 in that Test and followed it up in 1997 with memorable twin hundreds to level the series 1-1.

As it stands after three Tests, the 2019 Ashes is 1-1 and it has been 18 years since Australia won the Ashes in England.

Whether the presence of Waugh or any other former player would have made a difference in Leeds, Langer says there is no way to know.

"Would he have made a difference in those last 60-70 runs? Who knows?" Langer said.

"I've always felt throughout my whole time in Australian cricket I've been very fortunate to learn from the Dennis Lillees, Allan Borders, David Boons, Ian Chappells, Greg Chappells, the list goes on. And any chance we get to rub shoulders with them, it's a huge benefit both short and long term.

"Whether it makes a difference winning or losing a Test match like the other day, who can ever tell? But certainly, the way we've gone about our business for the first three Tests there has been a bit of steel there and having those sort of people around helps," the Australia head coach added.

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