Lord’s puts Australian archers on the Waugh path
LONDON: Explaining the centuries-old significance of Lord’s cricket ground to some of Australia’s Olympic archers is all in a day’s work for former test cricket captain Steve Waugh.
Lord’s is one of the iconic venues being used by the Games, with archers firing their arrows at a target 70 metres away across a swathe of grass familiar to viewers worldwide from cricket tests.
Waugh, one of the top 10 test run-scorers of all-time, knows a thing or two about the venerable ‘home of cricket’ as do most cricket-crazy compatriots brought up on regular Ashes triumphs over the Poms.
There is always an exception to every rule and Waugh, in London as an athlete liaison officer with the Australian Olympic team, revealed on Saturday that at least one of his charges had bowled him a googly.
“I gave some advice to one of the archery team the other day, and she didn’t really know what Lord’s was,” he told reporters at a briefing in the Olympic media centre.
“I said ‘Which end do you shoot from?’ and she said ‘We’re shooting from the end where there’s this old red brick building behind us’. I said ‘That’s the Lord’s pavilion’. So you try and add a bit of value where you can.”
One could almost hear the sound of apoplectic gargling from the tied and blazered members of the Marylebone Cricket Club, goggling at the description of one of the most famous landmarks in world sport.
Waugh said he could also help the archers with what to expect from a crowd at Lord’s and the sort of playing conditions they might face.
“One of the issues that is brought up is maybe the wind factor coming from different directions,” he said.
“The main thing is just to feel relaxed and comfortable and do the things you have always been doing.”
Sledging, that dark art of unsettling sporting rivals with a few well-chosen and well-aimed verbal arrows, was always one of Waugh’s fortes.
“How does it feel to have dropped the World Cup,” he reportedly enquired of South African fielder Herschelle Gibbs after a dropped catch in 1999 that allowed him to go on and make an unbeaten 120. Australia won the Cup, beating Pakistan in the final at Lord’s.
He said mind games played a part of every sport but cricket was a little bit different to most of the Olympic ones, given that players were out on the field for up to seven hours.
“There’s always a role for sledging, mate,” he smiled, when asked about it.
“No look, in any sport there’s mind games, gamesmanship, sledging or whatever. There’s body language, the way you carry yourself, if you are really positive that can have a huge effect on opponents…but I don’t think there’s too much sledging going on out there,” he added.