Disarmingly, Warne lured drummers and us into his web of cunning


Warne didn’t care about the pantheon. He left those mundane matters to others, instead focusing on reducing battle-hardened soldiers to bereft wrecks.

If he were still among us, Warne would be the first to shout from the rooftops that he wasn’t perfect, that he wasn’t a saint.

When a friend called late Friday night with the heartbreaking news, I silenced him with a few choice words, telling him we were too old to play these stupid games. The spirit just couldn’t take in the fact that Shane Warne was gone. At 52 years old. How could he? How could he so cruelly, recklessly, selfishly leave so many people behind so quickly, with such devastating consequences? Come on, Warney.

Shane Warne did this to you. Disarmingly, he dragged you into his web of cunning and cunning. He charmed you into thinking he was sweet, harmless, a really fun guy. And then he tightened the noose. With a mischievous smile, with a knowing look in his eyes, with the unspoken message that he won you over.

But that was only on the cricket pitch, where that was what he was supposed to do. Outside of that? Certainly not. Come on, Warney.

Warne twirled the legs in fashion. Certainly there was the eccentric Pakistan Abdul Qadir and the studious Anil Kumble, who made his Test debut a year and a half before the Victorian. They were extremely good, exceptional even, but they were not Warnes. They were game winners, but they weren’t showmen. They were only artists with the cricket ball. Warne was an artist on and off the court, a compelling mix of the unthinkable, the undoable, the ethereal and the don’t.


Before Warne and Kumble, leg rotation was a luxury. These two men have made it a permanent part of the cricketing landscape, the brick and mortar that it had never before been envisioned. Kumble did it with erasure, Warne was in front, cheeky, mischievous.

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Warne made you want to pick up the cricket ball and give it a tear. He pushed you to appeal long and hard, almost wanting the ref to rule in his favor when everyone and his grandmother knew there was no way the batsman would be out. He took you on an emotional roller coaster of feel-good and make-believe, tricking everyone – like all great magicians – in plain sight. He was magical. He was a genius. He was just Shane Warne, pure and simple.

How do mere mortals express their appreciation for a gift from God? What are those words, really, that do justice to the wrist champion, the control and command he had over his craft, his mesmerizing bag of tricks that drove grown men to putty?

Many of us took vicarious pleasure in Warne’s success. He became the beacon of hope for those who had to rely on cunning and wit rather than bluster and bravado. You wanted to play like him, but you couldn’t. But it was fine. Nobody else could, could they?

If he were still among us, Warne would be the first to shout from the rooftops that he wasn’t perfect, that he wasn’t a saint. And that was precisely his USP. For all his unadulterated sorcery, he was as human as anyone else, warts and all. Alongside Mark Waugh, he hid the approaches of a bookmaker seeking pitch and weather information early in his career. More than a decade in confusing batsmen, he left the 2003 World Cup in shame after testing positive for a banned diuretic and obliquely blaming his mother who he said wanted him to lose weight. weight. The occasional raunchy banter made headlines. Remarkably, all of them made it easier to understand. Touched as he might have been by the gods of cricket, he was as frail and fragile as the next human and that made him a hit with the masses.

Warne’s metamorphosis from beach-blonde, stocky, studded “Hollywood” — a wonderfully appropriate early nickname — to Sheikh of Tweak has been a spectacularly undulating ride of jaw-dropping twists and dramatic turns. A collage at the hands of Ravi Shastri and Sachin Tendulkar on his Sydney debut in 1992 suggested he was more exaggeration than substance, but in just his fifth Test Warne dispelled that idea as he powered Australia to an unlikely win at Colombo.

But it was in June 1993 that he did indeed arrive, with the “Bal du siècle”. It was his first ball on English soil, a ball that spun two feet on the outside leg throw, a ball that spun viciously off Mike Gatting’s bat, a ball that smashed into the stump. How appropriate. It was a loud, howling ball, but it was also a melodious, melodious ball. It was the epitome of Shane Warne. If he hadn’t played Test cricket again, it wouldn’t have mattered – his place in the pantheon was all but assured.

Warne didn’t care about the pantheon. He left those mundane matters to others, instead focusing on reducing battle-hardened soldiers to bereft wrecks. His strong fingers and supple wrist propelled the tiny little orb with such muted ferocity that batsmen didn’t mind injury to limbs, only wickets, reps and egos and not necessarily in that order. Apart from the wonderfully nimble-footed drummers of India whom he perpetually found a bridge too far, Warne had the measure of the rest of the world, but because he killed them softly and charmed them to their doom, the drummers didn’t seem embarrassed to be beaten. by the master.

In a shortlist of the best players not to lead their country in Test cricket, Warne’s name will hover high. He was not just an executioner; he was also a master strategist whose ticking brain helped him in areas other than bowling. It was his misfortune that Australia, like the rest of the world, was more obsessed with only batsman-captains, as few can match his leadership and man-management skills.

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Long after pulling out of Test cricket with 708 wickets – second only to Muttiah Muralitharan’s 800 – Warne has stirred up a motley group of Rajasthan Royals relative non-hopefuls to stage a successful assault on the inaugural edition of the Premier Indian League. He was past his prime as a bowler, but it hardly showed. Delighting in the heady mix of cricket and entertainment, the showman activated the spell again, managing to convince his impressed colleagues that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was within their reach.

Now Warne is no more, though his legacy will suffer vicissitudes such as death and heart attacks. But couldn’t he have waited a decade, a year, a month, a week, at least a day, before deciding that the world had seen enough of him? Surely he could have? Come on, Warney.


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