Homesickness a worry ahead of WI tour: Waugh
Published: Friday, March 28, 2003, 21:42 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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Sydney: Steve Waugh admits homesickness could burden his much-travelled Australian squad when it journeys to the Caribbean next week for a Test and One-day series with the West Indies. The four-Test series will challenge the stamina and mental strength of the players, with many already on the road for eight months during one of the longest campaigns in Australian cricket history. Test skipper Waugh and opening batsman Justin Langer are the notable exceptions after they were not included in the Australian One-day squad which thrashed India in the World Cup final in Johannesburg last Sunday. But the likes of Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist must maintain their intensity for a series which may not be as lopsided as suggested by Australia's crushing 5-0 home win over the Windies. "Realistically the (World Cup players) haven't had a lot of cricket so I don't think tiredness will be a factor," Waugh said. "It's more the homesickness factor and being away from Australia. That's the toughest thing to overcome." "They haven't played a lot of cricket in South Africa and when you've got downtime you tend to think about things more often and that will be the biggest hurdle for the side to get over." "They're basically going to be overseas for four months straight. It's been very continuous and a lot of the guys in the side now have family so the dynamics of the team have changed." The wives and children of some of the Australian players are expected to travel to the Caribbean for a tour, which begins with a three-day match in Georgetown on April 5 before winding up with seven One-day Internationals. Waugh only confirmed his availability for the series two weeks ago and his presence and apparent renewed enthusiasm could be vital for an Australian team which expects a genuine challenge from the Windies. The last time the teams met, Australia was cruising through a record winning streak in Tests and had little trouble crunching the West Indies. "They're one of the few sides in world cricket which are on the up," Waugh said. "Their batting looks very strong and there's some very good young players - Ramnaresh Sarwan, Marlon Samuels, Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, then you've got Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Brian Lara, Carl Hooper and Ridley Jacobs there so it's an excellent batting side. Australia drew 2-2 during its last Caribbean visit, when Waugh's first series as captain was almost destroyed by remarkable performances from Lara, who averages almost 50 against Australia. "He'll certainly lift for an Australian series, he always does," Waugh said. "He was phenomenal last time we were there and, knowing him, he will want to play well against the best side in the world so he'll definitely fire up. That won't make it easy but it's a fantastic place to play cricket - it's my favourite. "The crowds can sometimes be volatile but they really love their cricket and they get enjoyment out of watching it and it really makes you want to play good cricket." "The wickets are a little bit unpredictable on the last couple of tours and you can't take anything for granted."