Steve Waugh Friday hit back at Shane Warne after he reignited a long-running feud between two of Australia’s greatest players, saying he was doing his job as captain when he dropped the leg-spinner in 1999.
Earlier this week, Warne blasted his former teammate and skipper as “the most selfish cricketer I’ve played with”, still holding a grudge after Waugh axed him for the final Test on a tour of the West Indies 17 years ago, a game Australia won.
It sparked a backlash against Warne on social media with Waugh issuing a short statement the following day that said: “I’m not justifying his comments with an answer.”
But he opened up on Friday, explaining the decision to drop Warne was tough but part of his job as Australian captain.
“To be fair, not only Shane, any player I had to tell was dropped wasn’t easy,” he told Triple M commercial radio.
“It wasn’t easy telling Adam Dale he was dropped for a Test match or Greg Blewett. There were a number of players I had to tell they weren’t playing, Andy Bichel.
“As a captain that is the hardest thing to do. But it’s also why you’re captain, because people expect you to make the tough decisions for the benefit of the team.
“You have got to do that at times and you have got to be prepared not to be liked by everyone.”
Warne, speaking on an episode of reality TV show “I’m a Celebrity. Get Me Out of Here”, on which he is a contestant, said he was “really disappointed” at the decision to drop him and he felt like Waugh was making him “a scapegoat”.
“I don’t like Steve Waugh for a lot of other reasons, but that was the reason,” he said on why they fell out.
Waugh, who played 168 Tests, 57 as captain, said a key lesson he learned as captain was to take risks and follow his gut feeling.
“I guess the main thing as a captain and leader, as long as people respect your decision that is all you can ask,” he said.
“You have got to take a bit of a risk sometimes. It’s not always the obvious thing to do.
“Sometimes it can be gut feel, it can be based on facts… at the end of the day you are a leader because people expect you to make a choice.”
Waugh has previously admitted the decision to dump Warne cost him his friendship with the spin king, but in his book “The Meaning Of Luck” said it helped shape and define him as a captain.