Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell Ian ChappellRSS FeedFeeds  | Archives
Former Australia captain, now a cricket commentator and columnist

Mind over matter

No cricketer is irreplaceable, but Shane Warne comes mighty close

Ian Chappell

December 21, 2006

Text size: A | A



Shane Warne is the bowler Australia will miss most © Getty Images
Enlarge

Australia's judgment day is just round the corner. What Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath have done so successfully throughout their career - perform as a duet - they are going to repeat on retiring.

The blond bamboozler and the miserly metronome will only mesmerise and torment batsmen for two more Tests. Australia will still be a good team when they leave after the SCG Test but nowhere near as good as when they plied their enormous bowling skills in tandem. Despite McGrath's undoubted ability, Warne is the bowler Australia will miss the most. No cricketer is irreplaceable but Warne comes mighty close.

The working of Warne's mind will be a fascinating study for all budding legspinners and psychology students. He once said he was having trouble working out when the West Indies batsman Carl Hooper was going to "give him the charge", so he tried a simple ruse. "The next time I ran into bowl," Warne said, "I watched his face and brought my arm over with no intention of letting the ball go. His face told me all I needed to know and I never had the problem again." Simple but effective.

The mind, however, is only half of Warne's magic as a bowler. It's one thing to know how to trouble batsmen, but it's another altogether to have the ability and control to be able to keep producing demanding deliveries. It's hard to believe now but Warne had a rather rocky start to his international career.

He began in 1991-92 with a 1 for 150 against India at the SCG and things didn't improve in Adelaide where he failed to take a wicket in the next Test. Then on to Sri Lanka where he had a 0 for 107 in the first innings in Colombo. Things were looking pretty bleak until Allan Border threw him the ball with the match slipping away and Warne responded with 3 for 11 in five overs to help clinch a surprise victory. Until the recent miracle at Adelaide Oval, Warne ranked that as the best victory in his glittering career.

It's one thing to know how to trouble batsmen but it's another altogether to have the ability and control to be able to keep producing demanding deliveries

For all the good things Border did for Australian cricket that decision in Colombo may well have been his greatest deed - having confidence in Warne when the bowler had little himself. Certainly Border and the Australian captains who have followed - Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting - have all benefited greatly from Warne's presence. Along with McGrath, he has been a captain's best friend - a bowler who wants the ball when the game is on the line.

Despite operations to his spinning finger and creaky right shoulder and a 12-month suspension, Warne has been extremely resilient. Since he returned from the suspension Warne has a better record [than his overall numbers] in all categories except economy rate and he was nearly 35 when he made his comeback. This is an indication that what he may have lost physically he has more than compensated for mentally.

Not that there was ever a time when his mind wasn't a strong part of Warne's game. In late 1999 he was bowling round the wicket to Sourav Ganguly and he watched a few deliveries pass by harmlessly. "Hey mate," called out Warne, "this crowd didn't pay their money to watch you let balls go. They're here to see this fella [Sachin Tendulkar at the non-striker's end] play shots." A couple of overs later Ganguly was stumped off Warne's bowling trying to hit Warne out of the ground.

Warne has always been a smart bowler and it's not surprising that he has picked the perfect moment to call a halt to his wicket-taking extravaganza. There'll be a lot of batsmen thankful for that decision and the fact that he's taking McGrath with him.

RSS Feeds: Ian Chappell

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Ian ChappellClose
Ian Chappell Widely regarded as the best Australian captain of the last 50 years, Ian Chappell moulded a team in his image: tough, positive, and fearless. Even though Chappell sometimes risked defeat playing for a win, Australia did not lose a Test series under him between 1971 and 1975. He was an aggressive batsman himself, always ready to hook a bouncer and unafraid to use his feet against the spinners. In 1977 he played a lead role in the defection of a number of Australian players to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, which did not endear him to the administrators, who he regarded with contempt in any case. After retirement, he made an easy switch to television, where he has come to be known as a trenchant and fiercely independent voice.

    Have India missed the boat?

Martin Crowe: They made a wrong move by refusing to pick Ashwin; Kohli and Pujara have not come good; and Jadeja has only flattered to deceive

    'Ajmal calls me the running offspinner'

Scott Styris talks about being a globetrotting cricketer, the ugliest cricket kit, and his slow one-day hundred

    An all-round ODI giant

Numbers Game: Few players can boast the sort of numbers that Jacques Kallis achieved in ODIs

    Is being bowled out by Moeen embarrassing?

Polite Enquiries: Is Rahane India's Misbah? Should Rohit be dropped? Jarrod Kimber and George Dobell discuss

India's bowling weakness outside the subcontinent

Kartikeya Date: Without good-quality third and fourth bowlers, India will continue to struggle outside the subcontinent

News | Features Last 7 days

The woeful world of Pankaj Singh

Pankaj Singh greeted his most expensive analysis in Test history with the words 'That is cricket'. It was admirable acceptance from an impressive man of a record he did not deserve

Anderson England's guilty pleasure

There is an uncomfortable recognition that the beauty of James Anderson's cricket comes with a professionalism that has been taken to the limits but weak umpiring has to share the blame

Ugly runs but still they swoon

Alastair Cook did not bat like a leading man but the crowd applauded him for simply not failing

Boycott floored by an Indian trundler

When Eknath Solkar got under the skin of Geoff Boycott, leading to a three-year self-imposed exile from Test cricket

Worst keepers, and honours at Lord's

Also, most keeping dismissals on debut, seven-for at HQ, and youngest ODI centurions

News | Features Last 7 days
Sponsored Links

Why not you? Read and learn how!