May 8, 2011

Warne makes the game interesting for his players

As captain, he makes every ball worth watching. He empowers his players and makes them want to contribute to the team every time

Shane Warne will retire as a player at the end of this IPL season. He'll leave with only one regret: that he didn't captain Australia on a long-term basis.

When he did captain the Australian one-day side, he was extremely successful; 10 wins out of 11 matches is an exceptional record.

However it's more than wins and losses with Warne's captaincy. He makes the game interesting for his players, and that translates into exciting cricket for the fans. It's just like when he bowls: there's an air of expectancy with every ball.

The first time I saw him captain was for Victoria in a Super 8 match-up in North Queensland. The opposition required six runs to win off the last over and Victoria needed a couple of wickets. With only seven fielders at his disposal, Warne shunned containment and gave the bowler, Damien Fleming, some catching men. Victoria took the two wickets with aggressive tactics, pulling off a stunning and exhilarating victory.

Warne utilised similar tactics to win the inaugural IPL competition with a Rajasthan Royals side that wasn't highly rated at the start of the season. This was another triumph for aggressive captaincy.

There's much more to Warne's leadership than just his on-field tactics, though. He empowered players by putting them in a position to have success. This then boosted them not only in the eyes of their team-mates but also in their own estimation. He also went out of his way to make junior players feel part of the team.

There's the joyous story of how he turned up with the whole Rajasthan team in the village home of dashing opening batsman Swapnil Asnodkar. The previously unheralded youngster had a terrific season and helped Rajasthan to the title.

Leadership was a big part of Warne's success as a captain. He made players feel wanted and they in turn produced every effort to give more for the team. Warne believed the time he spent with players after hours reaped great rewards on the field.

He also gave players something they crave: honesty. Most players can handle the truth if they are told face to face. What they don't like is a leader who can't confront the many tough situations he is sure to encounter.

Some will say Warne only has himself to blame for not captaining Australia more often. There's no disputing he made his share of mistakes off the field, but he doesn't shy away from acknowledging as much. He once cried off a dinner invitation saying he was taking his kids out. "I may be a shit husband," he admitted, "but I'm a good father."

I feel he wouldn't have encountered as many off-field problems if he had been captain of Australia. Warne didn't have a great self-protection radar system because he didn't see himself as a superstar. He's a traditionalist in a lot of ways and had great respect for the Australian captaincy.

He's certainly made a wise decision to retire from the IPL now, before he's too old to compete. As the great Australian allrounder Keith Miller once said when asked about retirement: "I wanted people to ask why did you, rather than why don't you."

There are very few cricketers who are irreplaceable. The only two who come readily to mind are Sir Donald Bradman and Sir Garfield Sobers. Warne certainly won't be knighted, and he isn't quite irreplaceable but he's close.

Before him, the legspinner who most resembled him was the feisty Australian Bill "Tiger" O'Reilly, who openly hated batsmen. He thought they were trying to take the food out of his mouth and consequently he was ultra-aggressive in his efforts to rid himself of the competition. Warne had a similar thought process and he was constantly plotting the batsman's downfall.

There's no doubt Warne will be missed, not just for his cricketing ability but also for the peripheral things he brought the game. Rajasthan are wise to announce they're retaining his services as he brings a winning culture to any club. If anyone can mentor the next Warne, it would be Shane Keith himself.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mahad on May 10, 2011, 10:03 GMT


    The difference between Warne and Murali is that Murali grew up on pitches that were graveyards for fast bowlers and started to turn for spinners on day 2, which is why Sri Lanka isn't having too many issues in the spin bowling department and which is why Vaas is seen as one of the greatest left armers of all time. Warne grew up on pitches that were more or less made for fast bowlers, which is why the Aussies are having trouble finding any spinner that can get wickets. You shouldn't really say Indian batsmen hammered Warne and Murali, since that is no big deal as Asian teams have turning wickets and are used to extravagant spin. Put them on green tracks, however, and they have no idea what to do. It goes both ways. The only consistent pace bowler India has is Zaheer Khan, and even then he's only been a consistent bowler in the past couple of years.

  • Eric on May 9, 2011, 21:07 GMT

    i dont think it is right to look back and feel Shane Warne should have been more than what he is coz certainly Ausssie couldnt have had better captains than its had...Ponting for me was the lucky one, when times got hard he faultered..Hayden, Slater,Langer, Ponting, Mark and Steve Waugh, Martyn, Beaven, Symonds, Warne, Lee, McGrath,McGill, damien flemming, gillespi among others...who couldnt have captained such a team???

  • Dummy4 on May 9, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    Whatever it is? I just like to watch him bowling, i wish he keeps on playing.............

  • Dummy4 on May 9, 2011, 17:35 GMT

    Never was a Warne fan to be honest. That is until he showcased his awesome leadership and management skills in the first edition of the IPL to leave every single person shocked. IPL never was anything close to worth following since then x)

  • S.rao on May 9, 2011, 17:13 GMT

    Warne was not a dignified person,but I have never seen any one turn the ball to such a large degree a true genius and I hear he is a pretty good leader too.In his playing days he was a brilliant slip fielder and a handy batsman plus he had to bowl most of the time on unfriendly (for spin) wickets of Australia,like him or not he is was undoubtedly a spin wizard.

  • nalin on May 9, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    There is no mistake that Ian Chappell preferred Warne to Steve Waugh as Australian captain. This may reflect the fact that Ian Chappell saw more of his aggressive self in Warne than Waugh. I was impressed by Warne"s captaincy of Aus in ODI. As to the best captain Australia did not have I suspect Richie Benaud despite his admiration of Warne may still bestow that accolade to Keith Miller.

  • Charindra on May 9, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    @Himanshu - India played Murali well before 1998, when he wasn't really Murali, and after 2007, when he was nearing retirement and the ball wasn't spinning much for him. India hammered Warne in his peak, both in India and Australia. And I bet Warne would have got massacred by Australia if he played in another team, as he always gets hit around by Gilly, Hayden, Symonds etc in club cricket.

    @Sagnick - Yes, let's not compare Warne and Murali. Murali is a guy who didn't need to verbally abuse batsmen and intimidate umpires to get his wickets. He let the ball do the talking, like the WI bowlers of the 70's and 80's. So yes, no comparison.

  • Shahnawaz on May 9, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    Leave it to mr. chappel to make understatements ... if warne isnt irreplacable then who the hell is?? look at the sate the aussies r in without him

  • Harshal on May 9, 2011, 10:51 GMT

    Make no mistake, Warne is a genius. He is one of the best at getting the best out of his team. For all the writing, Ian never really pin points what makes Warne so special. I am not sure even Ian gets it. Warne's strong point is man management which probably was the weakness with Chapell brothers when they were captains, coaches and journalists. Warne builds the team, he inspires it, he pushes it, he takes the lead and if things don't work, he takes the blame like an elder brother. I think there is a lot to learn from him for all of us, not just Chapells.

  • Karan on May 9, 2011, 10:11 GMT

    @Sagnik Chatterjee: I don't think that the article was comparing Warne to O'Reilly in terms of bowling style, but rather attitude. In terms of bowling style, Warne was, of course, very different from O'Reilly, and Chandrasekhar probably had more in common with O'Reilly than Warne did. The article speaks about O'Reilly's attitude, however, so that's probably what was being referred to. I think that Warne probably showed more respect to batsmen than O'Reilly, but the comparison isn't too bad.

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