'TJ became my Dr Phil' - Warne
Shane Warne has told of his tearful farewell to his spin mentor Terry Jenner, who died on Wednesday, having been in failing health since suffering a massive heart attack in England in April last year. Warne has also described how a spray from Jenner back in 1992 helped transform him from an overweight fringe Test player into the world's greatest legspinner.
"When I spoke to TJ on the phone a few weeks ago - we said goodbye to each other - it was a very difficult thing to do and chat as it was so unlike all our others - this was it for the last time after 20 odd years," Warne wrote in a tribute on his website. "We both didn't say too much as we both didn't need too [sic] - we just knew.
"I did thank him though for everything he had done for me and tried to express how much his patience, advice, love and above all his friendship has meant to me and my family. We both shed a bit of a tear and said goodbye."
Long phone conversations had become a routine for the pair over the years, ever since they met at the Academy in 1990. Jenner had played only nine Tests for Australia during the 1970s but his understanding of legspin and cricket tactics, and most importantly his no-nonsense attitude, had appealed to Warne.
"TJ became my Dr Phil on all matters and levels - wherever I was around the world we would call and chat - we would plan to bring down the opposition batsmen, laugh and I would hang up feeling good," Warne wrote. "His knowledge of the game, not just spin bowling was amazing."
Throughout his career, Warne was famously dismissive of the role coaches played in the team environment, especially John Buchanan. But the exception was Jenner, who had spent time in prison for stealing from an employer and was trying to rebuild his life as an Academy coach under Rod Marsh when he first encountered a 20-year-old Warne.
"TJ, like his fellow players of that era are very straight and also very blunt - the best way to be in all aspects of life - no bull shit or fluffy rubbish," Warne wrote. "But, you did need a thick skin - mine was luckily - or shall we say had to develop very quickly, which looking back now and reflecting - has held me in good stead for all my life situations not just cricket.
"Underneath the ample frame and all that bravado was a very charming, caring, loving family man who was a giver to cricket and life. I think we met at exactly the right time in each other's lives, we where [sic] good for each other - maybe all the stars and moons where [sic] aligned, because we clicked instantly."
Warne recalled spending many hours bowling on Adelaide Oval's No. 2 under Jenner's watchful eye, and he remembered the encouragement Jenner gave after Warne took 1 for 150 on his Test debut against India.
However, there was also the occasional reality-check. In the winter after his first Test, Warne, 22, drove from Melbourne to Adelaide, bought a slab of beer and knocked on Jenner's door. Warne had been picked for Australia's upcoming tour of Sri Lanka, and he wanted to learn more from his mentor.
"Well the next 4-5 hours where [sic] life changing - I went to get 2 beers and he said what are you doing? I said as usual a few beers together! He said listen - you are so lucky to be selected to tour again and represent Australia, why don't you get serious, I said like how? I'm working hard!
"Rubbish he bellowed out, your [sic] fat, drink way to much beer and smoke like a chimney and have never had to sacrifice anything - bit rich I thought coming from TJ as he sucked back a beer and took a massive puff on his cigar!!! Ok then - what do I need to do you think? To start with give up drinking excessively every night, get fit, drop weight and at least look like a sportsman. Wow I thought, cop that! I said ok I will, you wait and see.
"The rest of the chat was an old fashioned honest heart to heart about life. I woke up feeling energised and started training hard. Every day I ran, did push ups, sit ups, ate properly and bowled for hours. Fast forward 3 to 4 months and I weighed 79kg, I had managed to lose 20kg and was ready for Sri Lanka I thought!"
Within a year, Warne was on an Ashes tour and bowled the so-called ball of the century to Mike Gatting, and he went on to amass 708 Test wickets. Even in Warne's final Test series, the 2006-07 Ashes, by which time he was 37 years old, he still listened to Jenner in the nets as Australia completed their 5-0 whitewash.
Jenner's funeral will be held at Adelaide Oval on Tuesday, May 31.