The player from working-class Sydney grew as he learned. He cultivated a deep passion and respect for the history and traditions of cricket, wrote a series of tour diaries that revealed a fascination with the way the world works, and built a children's home in Calcutta. By 1999, when he took over as Australian captain, he was one of the game's greats. His batting was never as flamboyant as West Indian Brian Lara's nor as sublime as Indian Sachin Tendulkar's, but his wicket had become the most prized in cricket. Other batsmen could take a bowling attack apart, but Waugh, using both bat and niggling remarks (or what he liked to call "mental disintegration"), would bludgeon it and then bury it to make sure it never bothered his team again.
As captain he revolutionized the game, urging his team to score runs faster and instilling a relentlessly savage will to win. He led Australia to a one-day World Cup trophy, a record 16 consecutive test victories and won almost three out of every four tests in which he was captain. When Waugh hung up his beloved baggy green cap last week after helping his team to a characteristically gutsy draw against India, cricket lovers around the world knew something special was finally over.