Shane Warne: gifted cricketer, but a thug


No Spin – My Biography, by Shane Warne with Mark Nicholas (Penguin Random House)

shane warneThere is much to admire about Shane Warne, but not much to like.

Shane Warne was a wonderful bowler, a rebel, a bit of a rogue and a gifted cricketer. He is also a petulant bully, a sycophant and a dissembler of note.

Let’s examine his better qualities. He took 708 in Test cricket (ODIs and T20s don’t count for much), he could change the course of a match in a single spell of bowling and he was a star attraction. People came to watch him bowl and watching him bowl was one of the joys of cricket.

He was also a thug. The way he followed up his dismissal of South African opening batsman Andrew Hudson during a Test match at the Wanderers in 1994 crossed the boundary of sportsmanship. In this biography he apologises for the “rage in my eyes and the anger in my body language”. A bit late for that now, mate.

He blames it on the hostile Johannesburg crowd and because the Aussie skipper Alan Border frustrated him by bringing him on to bowl late. Those excuses are about as credible as that his mother gave him the diuretics for which he tested positive during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa and that he and former teammate Mark Waugh were just innocent bystanders in the great match-fixing era.

Warne also takes nasty pleasure in mesmerising South African batsman Daryll Cullinan. Poor Cullinan, a superb strokemaker, could never figure out Warne. Cullinan averaged 44.21 in his 70 Tests, but only 12.75 against the Australians and Warne. Although Warne only took Cullinan’s wicket four times in 12 dismissals against Australia, you’d swear it was a million. Warne still milks this duel in the book. It’s part of the post-match bullying.

When Warne writes, or when Nicholas writes for Warne, about cricket, the book has much value. It’s when Warne strays from the crease that the book becomes tedious. Who really cares about Warne and Liz Hurley? How many Tests did she play?

Warne has tried to reinvent himself after his playing career and he is not a bad TV pundit. I wish he were as good a writer.

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