Forty Funniest Cricketers of All Time
23. Mark Waugh
Mark Waugh? Really? The 23rd funniest cricketer of all time?
I know. I didn't believe it either until I crunched the numbers. The younger Waugh twin is not generally thought of as particularly funny. Not even in comparison to his notoriously cricket-humourless brother, a man who couldn't even manage some slapstick colliding with Jason Gillespie without both parties being sent to hospital.
But Junior had his funny moments on the cricket field. Let's go through them.
There was the time he decided, apparently on a whim, to try this new-fangled reverse sweep that all the kids were talking about. In the nets? No, of course not. In the middle of a Test, facing Phil Tufnell. He was immediately bowled, dragging the ball from well outside leg stump back down onto it.
And this wasn't the first amusing moment between Phil Tufnell and Mark Waugh. In Lord's in 1993, the rampaging Australian team had made their way in the first innings of the game to 452 for the loss of just two wickets. Mark Taylor had made 111. Michael Slater had made 152. And David Boon had also brought up his century batting at number three. Mark Waugh was on 99, one run away from making it the first innings in Test history to have the top four batsmen score centuries. Then a delivery from Tufnell hit his pads, rolled beneath his legs and onto the stumps. Not a gut-bustingly hilarious moment, sure, but certainly a passably amusing way to avoid making Test cricket history.
Much funnier 99 work was achieved by Junior when he was at the non-striker's end with Steve on 99 not out. Mark was the runner for last man in, Craig McDermott. (And by the way, how much does comedy cricket miss runners? Come on, ICC. Let's get superfluous confusing batsmen back on the field where they belong.) When Steve defended a ball at his feet, Mark decided to charge down the crease for the single, only to be sent back and run out, leaving Steve stranded one short of his century. As we learned from Sourav Ganguly, there are few things funnier than annoying Steve Waugh. But to do so, as his brother, and as a runner, by denying him a century with a suicidal attempt at a single? That's comedy gold.
You want more running between the wickets shenanigans? There's also the time he collided with Matthew Elliott, knocking both batsmen to the ground only for neither of them to be run out. Again, perhaps not quite as funny as it could have been, since it ended with Elliott breaking his leg (what is it with the Waughs and breaking teammates' legs?). But a solid slapstick premise, if nothing else.
Still not convinced? There was also the time he made Hansie Cronje so furious he drove a stump into a dressing room door, when Mark Waugh was given not out for hitting the wicket after his arm spasmed after being struck by Shaun Pollock. The not out decision was based on the fact that Waugh had completed his shot before his bat inexplicably jerked out to hit the stumps. But what a glorious comic effort to knock the bails off in such a needless fashion while trying to save a Test. Especially when he topped it by being dropped at short leg three balls later.
So there we are. A man whose arguably most significant comedy cricket moment comes from a blow to the funny bone? That man has to make the list of the funniest cricketers of all time.
Mark Waugh isn't a man you immediately think of when you think of funny cricketers. But he has a solid resume. And it's solid enough to make him the twenty-third funniest cricketer of all time.