Mark Waugh: 15 lesser-known facts from the life of ‘Junior’

Born June 2, 1965, Mark Edward Waugh is a former Australian cricketer who represented his country for almost a decade-and-a-half between 1988 and 2002. Younger to his twin brother Steve, Mark quite ironically replaced his brother in the Test side and went on to score a hundred on his debut. He scored well over 16,000 international runs during the course of his distinguished career. An elegant stroke-player, Mark was also an excellent slip-fielder and is regarded as one of the all time greats in this regard. Post retirement, he remained involved with the game and is currently a national selector for the Australian cricket team. On his 51st birthday, Chinmay Jawalekar looks at 15 interesting things to know about ‘Junior’. ALSO READ: 11 facts about the great Steve Waugh.

1.  Junior: Mark is about four minutes younger to his twin brother Steve. This is precisely why he got the nickname ‘Junior’. Both the cricketers went on to serve their country for well over 100 Tests.

2.  Family: Mark’s father was a bank official and his mother was a teacher with the New South Wales Department of Education. Apart from Steve, he had two more brothers — Dean and Daniel. Like his elder brothers, Dean also pursued cricket and played the game at First-Class and List ‘A’ level in Australia. Daniel also played for New South Wales (NSW) Under-17s, but could not progress further. Involvement in sports was integral part of the family, as Mark’s grandfather Edward was a greyhound trainer while his father Rodger and mother Beverly were accomplished tennis players and played the game till Under-14 level. He wife Kim Waugh is also a Sydney Cup-winning thoroughbred trainer.

3.  Sports enthusiast: From the beginning, Mark was inclined towards sports. At an early age, he got involved in multiple sports like soccer, cricket and tennis. He was the youngest ever to be selected for New South Wales Primary Schools’ soccer team and even went on to represent Sydney Croatia football team before shifting his focus to cricket.

4.  Osgood-Schlatter disease: At 15, Mark was diagnosed with a stress injury called Osgood-Schlatter disease, which meant that his growth would be restricted to his then height of 152 cm. But thankfully, a year later, he grew almost one foot in a year and resumed with his sporting career.

5.  Salesman: After completing his high-school, Mark did not apply for any University, as he had found a job as sports-equipment salesmen. Also his cricket career demanded more and more time, so he balanced his time between his job and cricket for a while before committing to the latter full time.

6.  Free dental service: In 1985, while playing for Egerton in the Bolton League in Lancashire, Northern England, Mark broke club’s record of run-scoring as he ended the season with 1460 runs and 75 wickets. His captain, who apparently was a dentist, was so impressed with the ‘Junior’ that he gave him free dental service.

7.  Made First-Class debut with Mark Taylor: Waugh shares his First-Class debut with his future captain Mark Taylor. Both opened for NSW on their debut.

8.  Afghan: When he was 20, there came a time in Mark’s career when he was overshadowed by his brother Steve’s performances for a brief period. Steve had by then been promoted to the national side. During that time, quite a few people who were close to both of them started calling him ‘Afghan’, which was a reference to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, meaning “forgotten war”.

9.  Replaced brother: After a string of good domestic performances, Mark was picked for the 1990-91 Ashes series; ironically in place of his brother Steve. He marked the occasion with a fine hundred on his debut. Later in the same year, Steve also returned to the Test team and remained a fixture till his retirement.

10.  Lazy elegance: Though Mark was unarguably one of the most gifted and finest stroke-makers, he was at times found guilty of throwing away his wicket casually. He was often criticised by the experts for loss of concentration and get dismissed to lazy shots. In current times, one cricketer who can be compared with Mark on this front is Rohit Sharma.

11.  Mark the bowler: Just like his brother Steve, Mark also used to bowl medium-pace but back injuries forced him to take off-spin bowling. He proved to be quite good at it and would often earn crucial breakthroughs for his team. Few can forget getting Sachin Tendulkar stumped on a wide delivery in the World Cup 1996 league match. Tendulkar was going great guns when Waugh removed him and that dismissal cost India the game. In all, Waugh took 59 wickets in Tests and 85 in ODIs.

12.  Excellent slip-fielder: Mark was a brilliant fielder in the slips. During his Test career, he took a record 181 catches and held it till his retirement. Since then, his record has been surpassed by Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Mahela Jayawardene and Rahul Dravid, who currently holds it with his tally of 210 catches. Here’s a compilation of some of the spellbinding catches taken by Waugh during his career.

13.  Fixing allegations: In 1998, it was revealed that Mark and Shane Warne had links with Indian bookmakers and the duo had accepted money during the Sri Lanka tour in 1994. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India also claimed that Indian cricketer Manoj Prabhakar played a key role in establishing relations between Waugh and bookies. Even though Waugh was cleared of any wrongdoing in August 2001, this remained a blot on his otherwise flawless career.

14.  Bid adieu with Steve: The Waugh twins came into this world together and quite interestingly, the two bid adieu to cricket together as well. They played their last ODI, First-Class and List ‘A’ game together. After the tri-series Down Under in 2002, they did not represent Australia in ODIs. In 2004, their last First-Class and List ‘A’ games came against Queensland and Tasmania respectively.

15.  Other roles in cricket: After retiring from the game, Waugh had a brief commentary stint with Channel Nine. Later, he also commentated for Channel Ten and Fox Sports besides doing a show ‘Sportsworld’ for Channel Seven where he played the role of a Tour Guide for Australian Sports Tours. He even worked as a sports journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald daily, and is currently one of the national selectors for Australian cricket team.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)