There have already been endless comparisons to his legendary father but Austin Waugh isn’t interested in any of them. He is determined to do things his way.
The 17-year-old will make his first grade debut when Sutherland travel to Raby to face Campbelltown-Camden to open the NSW Premier Cricket season on Saturday.
And Waugh has earned his place in new Sutherland captain Chris Williams’ team for round one on the back of an impressive 12 months which included selection for the Australia under-19s.
Some comparisons will be unavoidable. Like his father, former Australian captain Steve, Austin is also a talented all-rounder. There is also the quirky similarity that Waugh senior was also 17 when he made his first grade debut for Bankstown in the 1982-83 season.
But Austin told the Leader he was intent on forging his own path in the game.
“It's only natural for people to make comparisons between my dad and I but I have my own style and technique and I would like to be judged on the way I go about my cricket,” he said.
“We talk cricket like any father and son would and I'm always open to advice from him as he's had a really successful career. He's taught me to keep a level head and to never give up no matter how tough the situation is.
“My goal was to play first grade this year after making the Australian under-19 team last season and I'm grateful that the selectors have shown faith in me. My aim is to keep on improving and learning from the experienced players around me. If I can focus on this the results will take care of themselves.”
Austin, a local Sutherland junior, said he was excited to represent the club he has grown up at in the top grade.
“[I’m] looking forward to the opportunity and challenge to play against the best players in NSW and to represent Sutherland,” he said.
“It's great to be able to play alongside my mates as I've played all my cricket in the shire. Of course I aspired to play first grade but [you’re] never really sure when that's going to happen.”
Sutherland, who will also field former Test all-rounder Shane Watson in their line-up for the first three games of the season, will take on last season’s wooden spooners in a limited-overs match. Williams has taken on the captaincy full-time from Ben Dwarshuis who has stepped down due to his growing representative commitments. Dwarshuis is also battling a hamstring injury that has hampered his preparation for the new season.
Sutherland will look to get their campaign off to a fast start to help improve on their 13th-placed finish last season with the Sharks facing a derby against fierce local rivals St George in round two.