30th April 1995.
Australia had not won The Frank Worrell Trophy since 1973.
West Indies had not lost a Test series in 15 years. They were still the best Test team in the world.
This was the fourth and final Test unfolding at Kingston, Jamaica.
Australia had won the first, drawn the second and lost the third. Everything to play for here.
West Indies were dismissed for 265 on the first day. Australia were 73 for 3 before lunch on the second day when Steve Waugh walked out to join twin brother Mark.
Moment of truth.
At that moment, it was 1.41 coming out to join 1.74.
Steve Waugh had not established himself fully in the Australian side before 1995, despite playing 76 Tests since 1985. He had a tendency to give it away and his failure rate of 50% did not suggest an illustrious Test career. He did not have a single
Mark Waugh, on the other hand, had commenced his Test career in early-1991, ironically taking Steve’s place, and impressed with an elegant, calm batting style without compromising on his
Now that Steve had made a successful comeback, they were in the thick of it together.
The bowlers they faced -Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Kenny Benjamin- were considerably higher impact than both Waughs. Winston Benjamin and Carl Hooper were no mugs either.
The first hour after lunch yielded 67 runs in 11 overs, the Waughs in full flow. It changed the tone of the match. They both made centuries, eerily the eighth Test century for both of them, shook hands coolly both times.
Mark was dismissed a little before close for 126. Steve was not out for 110. Australia were 56 ahead with 6 wickets in hand. They were ahead but not decisively.
After spending some time in the dressing room (during which both of them posed for the photo above), Steve shortly would go to his room to get some sleep as a pottering thief had robbed him of it the night before.
Next morning, he would bat on and on, ruthlessly denying West Indies any way back into the game. He would be the last man out, after almost ten hours of batting and after just posting his maiden double century.
Paul Reiffel -the highest impact bowler in that series, and Shane Warne would knock the West Indies off for 213 and an innings win would be completed on the fourth day itself.
Steve Waugh would be the Man of the Match and the Man of the Series.
From here on, it would be 2.59 and 2.03.
Steve Waugh would go on to become the highest impact batsman in the world from this match till 1999. He would produce three more
Mark Waugh would maintain his level -he would get two more
Eventually, both would play 169 and 128 Tests respectively for Australia. Steve, who was older than Mark by four minutes, eventually would go on to captain Australia very successfully, and finish with an 11% higher impact than Mark as a player.
If Steve had commenced his career in 1995, his
West Indies would lose their status as the world’s best Test side after this match and would never come close to reclaiming it again.
Australia would replace them at the summit and within seven years would challenge, and arguably surpass, the great West Indian teams of the 1980s for the status of the greatest Test team ever.
History has never quite seen a specific moment dividing eras so sharply.
Art- Gokul Chakravarthy
NOTE: Impact Index has undergone an upgradation in November 2015, and though 95% of its findings remain the same, there have been some minor shifts. This piece was updated post that, and is up-to-date as of August 2016.