Shane Warne is the greatest leg-spinner the world has ever seen.
It’s a testament to just how good he was at cricket that his on-field performances were able to overshadow his astonishing moments of depravity away from it.
Very early on, Australia signed a social contract with Warne: we agreed to forgive (and in some cases celebrate) all his off-field mistakes on the basis that he continue to spin Australia to victory.
We always viewed Shane Warne through the prism of his on-field achievements. It enabled us to overlook his many, many indiscretions. From match fixing to diuretics to serial philandering, we found a way to excuse all his sins.
He was the rogue sales manager who’d charge prostitutes to the company credit card, but was always forgiven because he smashed all his targets.
Now that he’s retired, we just see him for who he truly is: a pretty shameless, disgusting man with very carnal desires. Without the prism of cricket through which to view him, we just see a middle-aged man who thinks he’s 23.
Warne’s on- and off-field dichotomy has always been critical to our understanding of him. An artist with the ball in hand; a sex fiend with his dick in hand. He was the Picasso of cricket.
But like Picasso, we needed him to be good at
painting cricket in order to excuse his shortcomings.
This year we’ve cringed more than ever before over Warney. The recent news that he commissioned this painting should not come as a surprise. Really, he’s not doing anything he wouldn’t have done in years gone by.
In fact, his behaviour overtime has been remarkably consistent. After all, we had a social contract in place. He knew that, and so did we.
Only difference now is that he isn’t spinning us to victory. In fact, it’s coming on a decade since he last played test cricket for Australia. It’s been years since he’s been relevant on the cricket field.
And that’s why it’s getting harder and harder to take this shit.
By Dave Edwards