Why is Shane Warne hell-bent on positioning himself as the biggest douchebag in Australian sport?
Some players go through their entire careers without a single hiccup. Like honest coal miners, they clock on and give it their all each day, with a minimum of fuss, histrionics and hair product – much like Derek Zoolander’s father did. Michael Hussey is a prime example of how you can forge out a splendid playing career – and, it seems, possibly a post-career stint in the media – just by performing on the field and being a decent guy off it.
And while players like Hussey are not headline grabbers, they certainly have a place in the sporting landscape – just as the Shane Warnes of this world do, obviously.
But this latest outburst against Cricket Australia – calling Pat Howard a “muppet” – is a step too far. Warne is clearly frustrated that he has been relegated to the background of Australian cricket. No one is asking him to come out of retirement anymore; he therefore feels unworthy, irrelevant. This is a man whose ego has been on permanent inflation mode for the past 20 years – and he is now struggling to adjust to the role of supporting actor.
There is no doubt that S.K. Warne was the greatest leg-spinner to play the game – and arguably the greatest cricketer to have ever lived. He controlled the flow of a match like a wizard; his bag of tricks was deep and varied, and could cause the classiest of batsmen to appear sub-standard. But while he possessed the utmost finesse with ball in hand, he has always lacked polish off the field.
His list of controversies is long and distinguished. During his playing career, he accepted money from a bookie to provide information on pitch and weather conditions and took a banned diuretic (which he artfully blamed on his mother), the latter of which earned him a one-year ban from international cricket. He was once involved in an altercation with some teenagers who took a photo of him smoking during a time in which he had accepted sponsorship of a nicotine patch firm in return for quitting smoking. He sent a string of lewd texts to a British nurse that eventually cost him his test vice-captaincy.
But Warne’s foibles were what endeared him to us; they were what made him human. So what if he got busted on tape begging for sex, holding a giant inflatable penis while wearing a Playboy bunny g-string? That could happen to anyone. Who cares if he was caught on the stump mic saying that Scott Muller “cant’ bowl, can’t throw”? It was a factual statement. As long as he was performing on the field, we could forgive Shane’s behaviour because he was winning games for Australia. And fucking hell, don’t we all love a winner?
But Shane isn’t playing for Australia anymore. In fact, he’s barely playing at all, save for trundling a few overs – and partaking in an ugly confrontation with Marlon Samuels – in the clusterfuck of a competition that is the KFC T20 Big Bash. So without the context of his match-winning heroics, he just comes off as a bit of a wanker. Say what you will about Anthony ‘Choc’ Mundine, but at least he’s still backing up his comments to some degree (racial epithets aside).
It is fair to say that Twitter has kept Warne relevant. He is good for one or two quotes a week; indeed, journalists take delight in reporting on his poorly worded, verging-on-illiterate diatribes, making liberal use of the (sic) function as they quote his tweets verbatim. But by using Twitter to vent his spleen, Warne is gradually eroding his massive fan base – and fast losing favour with the cricketing authorities.
Obviously Warne feels he needs to stay relevant and young. Indeed, his facial reconstruction/physical transformation speaks of a man desperately clinging onto his youth (and his model fiancee). A man desperately trying to control the news cycle; to insert himself into the story, even when there is no story to tell.
But, at the risk of sounding like an overly indulgent scholar, Australian cricket is in a state of flux right now. There is certainly a place for constructive criticism – and there always will be, if Australia is to return to its circa 1999-2004-ish domination of world cricket – but there is no place for reckless insults, particularly feckless ones sent via Twitter. Warne should spent less time abusing people on Twitter and instead refer to his own Twitter profile, which reads as such:
Found balance and calm in my life – father to my 3 wonderful children – excited by what the future holds. cant change the past but can put the future right !!
So in closing, just shut the fuck up, Warney. You were the greatest leg-spinner of our time and you inspired a generation of cricketers, this author included. But it’s time for you to just exit the scene with some semblance of humility and grace, rather than burn every bridge you’ve got left in the game that gave you so much.
By Dave Edwards