Shane Warne has hit out at former Australia captain Steve Waugh, saying that he was “the most selfish player I ever played with, and was only worried about averaging 50".
In his upcoming autobiography - No Spin - Warne also said Waugh changed as a person after becoming the captain, and that he let him down by dropping him for the fourth Test of the West Indies tour in 1999.
“He became a completely different person when he took over as captain,” Warne wrote. “It wasn’t that he dropped me. I have no issue about being dropped if I’m not performing; if you don’t perform, out you go. But there was more to it than my performances - I think it was jealousy. He started to niggle away, telling me to look at my diet and spend more time on deciding what sort of person I wanted to be in my life, how to conduct myself - that sort of stuff. I said, ‘Mate - worry about yourself.'"
Warne wasn’t having the best of times in West Indies and had picked just two wickets at an average of 134.00 in the first three Tests. Brian Lara had scored back-to-back centuries to help West Indies bounce back after a crushing 312-run defeat in the first Test, leaving the series interestingly poised ahead of the final Test.
Elaborating on the selection meeting before the fourth and final Test, Warne wrote:
“I was the vice-captain and bowling pretty ordinary and Tugga (Waugh) opened the selection meeting between the two of us and Geoff Marsh, the coach, by saying, ‘Warney, I don’t think you should play this next Test.’
“Silence. ‘Er, right,’ I said. ‘Why?’ ‘I don’t think you’re bowling very well, mate.’ ‘Yes… fair call,’ I admitted. ‘My shoulder [after surgery] is taking longer than I thought but it’s close now. The feel is slowly coming back and then the rhythm will come, mate. I’m not worried.'"
Marsh and Allan Border, the selector who was on tour then, backed Warne to play but Waugh remained adamant in his decision, saying “No, I appreciate your thoughts, AB, but Warney’s not playing. I’m going with my gut here. Sorry, guys."
Warne eventually missed out and Australia won, but the equation between the two was never the same again.
“Disappointed is not a strong enough word,” Warne wrote. “When the crunch came Tugga didn’t support me, and I felt so totally let down by someone who I had supported big time and was also a good friend. I conducted myself badly, to be honest. I wasn’t that supportive of the team, which I regret.
“Looking back, this was probably a combination of the shoulder issue still eating away at me and the pure anger bubbling inside at Steve’s lack of trust. During the first three Tests, at various times some of the bowlers came to me, grumbling about Tugga’s captaincy and field placements and stuff. I said I was backing him to the hilt and if they had a problem with the captain they should go see him direct. Perhaps because of this, I was deeply disappointed that he didn’t back me in return."