Mitchell Johnson replaces Mark Waugh in commentary box for third Test
The Aussie cricket greats are trading places in the commentary box for the third Test against India.
Pat Cummins won’t be the only big loss for Australian cricket fans watching the resumption of the one-sided Test series in India on Wednesday. Mark Waugh's lively stint in the commentary box is over – and with him goes the on-air fireworks and high-octane banter with fellow callers Ravi Shastri and Dinesh Karthik.
The 57-year-old has returned to Australia after filling in as a late replacement for Michael Clarke, who was left off the broadcast team following his widely publicised Noosa park blow-up. Former Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson will take Waugh's place behind the microphone.
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The Board of Control Cricket India (BCCI) appoints commentators for each series and only contracted Waugh for two matches. Cricket audiences around the world were kept entertained throughout the first two Tests as Waugh was taunted by ex-India stars Shastri and Karthik, responding with a mix of half-angry retorts and dismissive replies.
The former Australia top order batsman bravely criticised Virat Kohli's fielding – a big no-no in India – and frequently questioned the visitors' field placements as India strode to an easy win in the second Test. Karthik, in particular, seemed to enjoy stirring Waugh, peppering him with questions about the fields for certain batsmen.
"I didn’t know this was a press conference,” Waugh responded at one stage. "I'm going to limit your questions per session - you’re going to get one question, alright? No more."
One fan tweeted Waugh was "disgustingly rude and offensive" towards Karthik. But there were just as many in Waugh's corner, with veteran sports broadcaster Stephen Quartermain posting: "The sycophantic TV commentary in this #INDvAUS series is really hard to cope with. Thank goodness for Mark Waugh."
The sycophantic TV commentary in this #INDvAUS series is really hard to cope with.
Thank goodness for Mark Waugh.
— Stephen Quartermain (@Quartermain10) February 19, 2023
Speaking about the on-air battles on 'Breakfast with Harf' on RSN radio, Waugh later said: "It was just a bit of banter. He's the young brigade...these modern players see things differently to how we see them.
"It was all good fun, I can assure you. That's good. You've got to have different opinions. It'd be pretty boring if everyone had the same opinion.
"I just didn't agree with a lot of his opinions, to be honest. He couldn't work out my field settings etc.
"I think Mitchell Johnson's taken over my role in the next two Tests with Matt Hayden, just to give some balance to that commentary box in India."
Fox Sports boss backs Mark Waugh's commentary
Executive director of Fox Sports, Steve Crawley, is disappointed Waugh's stint in India has come to an end, rating him one of the elite commentators in world cricket. "He's unique. He's like Ian Chappell was," Crawley told Yahoo Sport Australia.
"You know if you go to the corner of a pub, almost without doubt they're going to be Mark Waugh fans. He says the things that the edgier, tougher people think.
"It's so good that he went to India and was brave enough to call out Kohli. If you or I call out Kohli it’s not going to work, but Mark Waugh's got the street 'cred' to be able to do that. It would have been great to hear more from him over there."
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