Cricket: Damien Fleming pinpoints Wimbledon mistake that prompted Steve Waugh to end his Test career

Steve Waugh was famous for instilling a sense of patriotism in his players, and would traditionally make every single member of the Test side don the baggy green in the first session of a match.

Even Shane Warne, famous for preferring his white floppy hat, would comply.

At the peak of the golden era of Australian cricket, however, it all got a bit ridiculous, and one former Test star blames it for ending his career.

The 2001 Ashes saw the touring Australians take advantage of an early finish to watch that year’s Wimbledon final between Goran Ivanisevic and Australian Pat Rafter.

They witnessed Ivansevic become the first wildcard in history to claim a title at the All England Club in a five-set thriller.

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Steve Waugh made a point of getting the squad to wear their baggy green caps, normally not worn beyond the pitch, to the fixture.

Everyone wore their caps, bar three.

The late Shane Warne, Steve’s brother Mark, and Victorian fast bowler Damien Fleming, on what would become his final Test tour.

Having demolished the hosts in the 1st Test at Edgbaston by an innings and 118 runs, and tickets already organised for the squad to the biggest fixture in world tennis, “a few people were talking about wearing the Baggy Green as we progressed through the alcohol”, Fleming told SEN 1116, recalling the celebrations.

“At night you’re thinking it’s just a bit of alcohol talking, but surely this won’t come into play.

“So I rock up for the bus, get on and guess what? Everyone has got their Baggy Greens except for Shane Warne, Mark Waugh and myself.

“One by one, as we walk through (at Wimbledon) there was a massive roar.

“But Steve Waugh was not happy that everyone hasn’t worn the Baggy Green – so there’s got to be ramifications for this.

“You can’t drop Shane Warne.

“I think he (Steve Waugh) worked out that didn’t go down very well (the last time Warne was dropped).

“He can’t drop his brother Mark.

“What would that be like at Christmas lunch?

“So someone has to go, and it’s the big-nosed Victorian.

“Not the smartest thing I ever did.

“I never played Test match cricket again.”

Fleming said it is one of his biggest regrets.

“Tugga, if I knew it was going to have that sort of ramification, I would have worn the Baggy Green.”

Fleming wasn’t the only Victorian critical of the decision to wear the cap to the All England Club – the late Shane Warne said in 2018 the episode was the “ultimate embarrassment”.

“It makes me puke to think that these grown men wore green baggy caps to Wimbledon!”, Warne told BBC Radio.

“You didn’t need a baggy green cap to say that you loved playing cricket for Australia.

“I was embarrassed about some of the verbal diarrhoea that came out about the baggy green cap.”

Former Australian coach Justin Langer was known to sleep with his baggy green, and joined the majority of his teammates in wearing it to Wimbledon that day.

Langer has been quoted as saying “I’d run through a brick wall for Steve Waugh any day of the week, such is my admiration and respect for him.”

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