Sometime in the late ‘90s my dad confided in me that he and his friend had stoutly agreed in about 1988 that Steve Waugh would never make it as a Test cricketer. The reason, fantastically, was that he was too soft. He didn’t like it hard and only wanted to play his way, a cavalier approach to batting that would never see him succeed at one of the most mentally gruelling sports there is.
Anyone with even a passing interest in cricket would know that Steve Waugh did very much succeed at Test level, and he did so whilst forging a name for himself as the most ice-cold, dour, hard-nosed, determined bugger imaginable. I’ve heard my old man make many a prediction that has proved true, as he is actually an astute judge of a sportsman, but he quite simply could not have gotten the Steve Waugh one more wrong.
I can be an opinionated fellow too. I do like to back in my judgements with reasons, and I do think that I can concede when someone has performed greater than my estimation. Shaun Hampson, the comically inept Richmond ruckman did, in 2016, lift his output from being the “worst ruckman I have ever seen at AFL level” to “reasonably competitive tap ruckman who is woefully inadequate around the ground”. Yes, Hampson slightly improved one facet of his game by virtue of being fit, but the basis of my argument remained intact, in that he was still very bad at playing football.