Australia’s current Test stars are in South Africa – but former skipper Steve Waugh has been speaking at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco.
Read on for his take on whether Test cricket is in jeopardy – England one-day captain Eoin Morgan thinks it is – and if he would have enjoyed playing Twenty20.
Waugh also shares his views on how Ben Stokes’ absence disrupted England’s unsuccessful Ashes defence and the all-rounder’s return to international action…
What did you make of the Ben Stokes saga?
It’s been chaotic, a bit of a circus. He certainly owes his team some good performances over the next couple of years because he really put them in a bit of a hole with the Australian tour, which was unsettling for the whole team.
For Trevor Bayliss and Joe Root to answer those questions was wearing – it was tough on Root. I’m sure Stokes has learned his lesson from what has happened, he left England in an awkward position. It put them off kilter for the whole trip and they didn’t really recover.
Could Root have handled the “circus” in any other way?
No. The police hadn’t made a decision and there was video footage [of Stokes allegedly involved in a brawl]. Everyone had access to it, it was always going to be a talking point. And then the [Jonny Bairstow “headbutt” on Cameron Bancroft] came up and a couple of other things.
On any other tour they would have been non-events but they become magnified and all of a sudden you’re dealing with problems every day which you don’t need to. It just became a bit of snowball effect for the team.
Do you fear for the future of Test cricket?
Yes, of course. If it comes down to a purely business decision, you go and play Twenty20 – that’s just the way it is. There’s a lot of money, you can look after your family, it’s not as taxing on the body, you’re not under the glare of the spotlight and the games are forgotten two hours later.
With Test matches it’s more a longevity thing, you can be exposed and it’s a bit more fragile for the players. I can understand it but when you start playing cricket you want to know how good you can be and the only way you can find that out is in Test cricket.
Do you wish you’d had the chance to play in T20 leagues across the world?
It’s hard to say. I loved playing Test cricket – I played 168 Tests and cherished every one. At the same time, financially you are going to make a lot more money and it can set you and your family up for life.
In some ways, it offsets all the time you spend away from your family. You want a bit of both but if there’s one I could be good at I would prefer to be good at Test cricket than Twenty20 but I would still like to play Twenty20 and earn that good money.
Do you think James Anderson and Stuart Broad should still be England’s first-choice Test bowlers?
England need to find some other bowlers to give these guys some help, they can’t keep being the front-line bowlers for a decade. Playing five Tests in a row at their age is a difficult and they had to bowl a lot of overs in Australia on flat, dead wickets. I thought Broad was below his best.
In New Zealand they will get much better conditions to bowl in, while I saw Anderson bowl last year in England and it was the best I’ve ever seen him bowl. When conditions suits and with the type of ball they use in England, I think those two are still a major force.
Laureus ambassador Steve Waugh was speaking ahead of the Laureus 2018 World Sports Awards, which celebrate sporting excellence and harness the power of sport to promote change.