On this day in 1985: Steve Waugh begins his glorious Test career


The Boxing Day Test holds a momentous place in the Australian sports calendar. To feature in this annual event at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is a matter of immense pride for every Australian cricketer without exception. Steve Waugh made his debut on Boxing Day against a formidable Indian side, on this day 35 years ago. The 20-year-old from New South Wales was chosen as a batting all-rounder and was pitted to come in at number 6 in the first innings. His first-ever innings lasted just 32 deliveries from which he made 12.

The beginning

Waugh was a force to reckon with in the domestic arena before he entered on the international stage. He kept piling up centuries in the Sheffield Shield regularly, and there came a point when he was certain of making the cut if he managed a decent outing in a game against Victoria for New South Wales just a few days before. On the day of his debut despite being in the Australian squad, he would have expected to be the twelfth man since it did not appear that he would be preferred over the eleven who played the first Test.

However, Greg Ritchie’s injury just before the big event opened the door for Waugh to make his debut. The next morning after Christmas, Waugh became the 335th player to don the national colours for Australia. Little did he expect to play a further 167 Tests and score 30 hundred at an average of over 51.

Though it was not an ideal start, Waugh did contribute with the ball by picking up the wickets of Ravi Shastri and Syed Kirmani. In the second innings, he was moved up the order by one slot, but he failed to materialize the chance as he made only 5 runs. The match ended in a draw and it took Waugh almost a year to establish himself as he scored some crucial runs in the Ashes at home.

Waugh went on to become not only one of Australia’s most successful captains, but he featured in a record number of Tests in a career that spanned almost 19 years, to stand behind only Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting in the list of most Tests played ever. Waugh finished his international career with a whopping 168 Tests and 325 ODIs under his belt, with over 18000 international runs to his credit.