Former Australian skipper Steve Waugh empathized with the current crop the national players, as they have been struggling to find their best and very inconsistent since the ball-tampering scandal rocked the Australian cricket in March last year in South Africa.
Waugh himself already went through the tough phase having made his Test debut in 1985 after Australia lost to West Indies and New Zealand and was even crushed in the Ashes series and he can really understand the current situation of the players and the game.
His comment came after India forged to stumps at 303 for 4 on Day 1 of the fourth and final Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), saying the current Australian team is feeling the intense pressure, as they are working hard and trying everything but all didn't work for them at the moment.
Waugh told cricket.com.au on Thursday, “It's hard, I've been there before when I first started playing for Australia. I didn't play in a winning Test until my thirteenth Test match. It's difficult when you're trying really hard, and nothing's working and everyone's got an opinion. You feel this intense pressure.”
He added, “Chopping and changing the order is probably not the ideal situation, you want to give guys a bit of faith and a bit of consistency but obviously, they had to make a change at the top of the order.”
Meanwhile, he was befuddled with Cricket Australia for scheduling Big Bash League in between Sheffield Shield, lashing out at the board by saying that how can someone pick in-form players or judge their form for the Test series if there's no domestic red-ball competition around.
Test legend further added, “If you look at the selection for this Test match, there are no Shield matches being played – how do you (judge) form? I heard someone say the other day that (Peter) Handscomb got a good 60 in the BBL, so he should be picked for the next Test match. Whilst he has been picked, I hope that's (not the reason) he got picked for a Test match because it should be on his previous form in Shield cricket and what he can do in the longer version of the game.”
He added, “But it is very difficult when the whole month of December is basically BBL and when you're playing Test matches. So how do you pick a guy in form if they haven't played any four-day cricket?”
While Australian players struggling on the field, the 53-year-old revealed that he is constantly in touch with the players and national team management and offering them some words of wisdom, as the current situation needs the support of the people to encourage them to fight on the field.
Waugh continued, “I keep in contact with the guys and send them regular messages. I think it's really important to give them positive feedback when they're doing it tough. I know that we weren't winning and things weren't going well, everyone tends to desert you - when you win, there's a lot of messages. I learned from that, that I'd like to give the guys support when they need it.”
"So I do try to keep in touch with Justin and Tim Paine, and try to keep it positive and upbeat and say ‘look, you've got to work through this, keep gutsing it out, working hard and doing the basics, and you'll turn it around eventually'."
While former international admitted that the hosts could not win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, but they can save the SCG Test and it can be only possible if young players like Marcus Harris, Travis Head or Marnus Labuschagne goes onto to score a century in the first innings of the final Test against India.
Waugh signed off by saying, “This Test match, I want to see one or two of the young guys score a hundred. Once they do that, it will be a breakthrough and they can all feed off that. Much like we did in the first Test match at Headingley in 1989 when Mark Taylor got a hundred, I got my first century and we didn't look back after that. So it just needs one of the young guys to make a breakthrough, whether it's Harris or Labuschagne or Head, I'd love to see one of those guys get a hundred in the first innings here.”
(With Cricket Australia Network Inputs)