The Roar
The Roar



Steve Smith over Mark Waugh? Pick your best catcher – runs are a bonus!

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30th November, 2021

This will make you laugh. The other day I saw one of those all-time best Aussie Test XIs and they’d picked Steve Smith instead of Mark Waugh at number four.

That’s right: Mark Waugh, the best second-slip we have ever had, couldn’t make it into our best-ever side! Madness.

I was so annoyed I contacted the author on Twitter. You’ll never guess what their explanation was! ‘Batting average’. That’s right: Smith was chosen merely because he has a batting average about 20 runs higher than Waugh.

I mean, really. Who cares that Waugh is the best second-slip of all time? Who cares that he was brilliant at first slip too? Who cares about the catch he took to dismiss Inzamam-ul-Haq off Shane Warne in Hobart in 1999. Had he not taken that catch Australia would not have won, but that doesn’t matter, evidently.

No, apparently all that matters is batting.

Now sure, I grant you that Smith is a vastly better batter than Waugh was – maybe the second-best of all time in fact. But I tell you, that extra 20 runs per innings doesn’t mean much if you drop Joe Root at second slip when he’s on 11 and he goes on to make 250!

No, the old maxims are there for a reason: pick your second slip based on catching ability – and any runs they score are a bonus.

Now sure, if you have two slippers of similar ability, then by all means pick the better batter. But this is not even close: I distinctly remember loads of great catches Waugh took and I have conveniently forgotten any he might have dropped.


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And while Smith has taken some pretty amazing catches, I’m sure he has dropped some simple ones too. I don’t have any statistics to back up what I’m saying – because none exist – but I know I’m right.

After all, other players who were great in the slips agree with me and how could they be wrong?

Anyway, the rest of the side was okay. Thankfully the bloke had Ian Healy at number seven and not Adam Gilchrist!