Three years after he walked away from cricket in a bid to regain his hunger, Austin Waugh has quietly made his way back to the centre. Waugh, the son of Australian Test great Steve and nephew to Mark, quit club cricket in December 2020 after falling out of love with the game.
Sutherland's captain – NSW and Sydney Sixers all-rounder Ben Dwarshuis – said at the time: "He wasn’t that interested in playing this year and wanted to spend a little bit of time away from it. He's a great player with a lot of potential but you never want to push someone to play.
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"The game can take its toll and having Waugh as a surname just adds that little bit of extra pressure. I think he's enjoying a bit of time away. Hopefully he takes a year off and comes back refreshed and loving his cricket again.”
One year became two and turned into three. But just when it was thought Austin, a talented all-rounder who represented Australia at under-19 level, had been lost to cricket forever, he made a low-key return for Sutherland's second grade team just before Christmas.
The 24-year-old took 1-7 from three overs and made 44 from 51 balls, earning an immediate promotion to first grade. In the past two games he has taken four wickets and scored 22 and 80 – the half-century winning him the 'Shark of the Round' award for the club's best performed player.
Cricket fans delighted to see Austin Waugh back playing
Supporters took to social media to enthusiastically welcome his return. Former Australia fast bowler Stuart Clark, who is Sutherland's chairman-of-selectors, is delighted to have Waugh back but has removed any expectation on what the future holds.
"We love him, he's a great kid, and it’s great he's playing again," Clark told Yahoo Sport Australia. "As long as he's enjoying himself, that's all that matters."
Waugh has previously discussed the challenge of carrying a famous surname, but denied it was a burden. "He's always going to be there, people are going to have an interest in him, being the player that he was," he said of his father. "I am not worried about that. People see him as a different person (but) I just see him as my dad." Steve Waugh once said of his son: "There are a lot of talented kids and I don’t want to put any more pressure on him."
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