Former Australia captain and one of the all-time greats of the game Steve Waugh fondly recalled the Ashes series of 1989 when a visiting Australian team defeated England for the first time in 25 years. Waugh was himself in outstanding form with the bat in that series with Allan Border leading the country to a historic win.
Australia had created history by defeating England 4-0 in the six-match series in 1989. It was their first win in the Ashes since 1982-83 and significantly the first in England in 25 years since 1964. The side was led by the inspirational Allan Border and comprised the likes of Mark Taylor, Dean Jones, David Boon, Terry Alderman, Geoff Lawson, Merv Hughes apart from Steve Waugh himself. The series marked the beginning of Australia’s return as the most dominating team in world cricket - the process was finally complete in 1995 when they beat the West Indies.
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Waugh was in brilliant form with the bat and scored 506 runs in 6 Tests (8 innings) at an average of 126.5. He recalled a unique strategy which fostered the success of the Australian batsmen against a potent England seam attack comprising the likes of Neil Foster and Angus Fraser. Waugh stated that the top and middle order decided not to wear helmets as much as possible during the course of their innings.
“It might not have been mentioned, but the top six players didn’t wear helmets on that tour. That was a bit of a collective decision by the batsmen to say: ‘hang on, we’re up for this contest, we don’t need a helmet, we’re going to take the English attack on," stated Waugh.
Waugh added that it was a very bold and courageous decision at the time as the Australian batsmen wanted to make a big statement. They wanted to tell the English bowlers that their batsmen were not scared of their bowling attack in their own conditions and were there to dominate and attack.
“I look back and it was a pretty brave and bold move and something that maybe has been overlooked. But that was the mentality we took in that we were going to take England on," added Waugh.
All of Australia’s four wins in the series came by huge margins but Waugh, who scored a magnificent 177 in the series opener, stated that the win in the opening Test seemed like a fluke.
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“The first Test match was a bit of a fluke really, We were used to losing a lot, so we were happy to draw the Test match, so Allan batted on until just before lunch on the fifth day before we declared, so that was a sign that, firstly, we didn’t want to lose the Test match but, secondly, it was a bit of a bonus if we were going to take some wickets. I think we got one before lunch and Merv (Hughes) bowled really well and Terry Alderman and Geoff Lawson, and all of a sudden it started to happen in the middle session and we had this incredible unexpected win against the odds and that gave us enormous belief that we could actually beat England, we could compete and we could do things we didn’t really believe we could do," stated Waugh.
Waugh said that their confidence was high after the win in Leeds and then they dominated the series.
“So the first one was by accident and once we got our nose in front, we really started to believe," quoted the legendary batsman.
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