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Warnie was a generous, honest champion

Despite being one of the best ever at what he did, he didn't see himself as a superstar

Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
It's downright ridiculous. You don't even get time to process Rod Marsh's demise, let alone grieve his passing, before you find out Shane Warne has had a heart attack and died.
I awoke in Sydney this morning to a string of phone messages that I presumed were condolences for the passing of my mate Rodney. When I looked a little closer, I found they were about Shane. I was already struggling and that put me in a state of shock.
Warne was not only a champion legspinner, I also found him to be an exceedingly generous person and a honest bloke.
He gave generously of his time to kids and went beyond the recommended in talking to them as he autographed their offered items. I've seen Warne first-hand not only sign for a plethora of autograph hunters lined up but also chat to the bulk of them. And he didn't just make idle talk, he actually chatted to them about stuff they were interested in.
As captain of an Australia side that won in the Caribbean, I was asked to put together a group of my guys from 1973 to match a team from Mark Taylor's 1995 side, which also won in the West Indies. I was a director of the Com-Tech company at the time and this was one of my most pleasant tasks in that role. There was no problem getting either side together and David Shein, the CEO of Com-Tech, endowed both teams with expense money for the trip.
When it came to Warne, he refused the cheque on the basis that he didn't need the money. When Shein pressed him to accept, he simply said, "Any mate of Ian Chappell is a mate of mine", and didn't take the money.
I once saw him walk into a room full of businesspeople who all knew his name. He wandered over to the first bloke, held out his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Shane."
"Mate," I chuckled afterwards, "they know who you are. You don't have to introduce yourself."
That was Shane. He didn't see himself as a superstar. "Aw mate," he'd say, "I'm just an average guy who likes a fag, a beer and a pie."
Warne didn't have a radar set. This probably got him into strife at times; he was always surprised when he was photographed out on the town, having what he thought was a night out like any other normal bloke.
As part of his contract with Channel 9, the two of us stayed in the same house for the 1996 Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. He came with a group of us to an Indian restaurant near the course and, despite his protests, I ordered for him. The only meal he'd agree to was plain chips. When they came, he ate one and accused me of having asked for chilli to be put on the chips and said he was going out to get a pizza. When he came back 20 minutes later, I accused him of stopping for a cigarette and he eventually admitted he'd had one while he was out.
My wife, Barbara-Ann, who has studied nutrition, once told Warnie he'd have to adjust his abominable diet. He was put out by the suggestion but unfortunately it would seem Barbara-Ann was proved right.
Warne was an aggressive cricketer who impressed with his excellent thinking on the game. He produced the ball of the 20th century to dismiss England's Mike Gatting, and a myriad other excellent deliveries that netted him more than 700 Test wickets.
Former Test fast bowler Rod Hogg, writing in the now defunct Melbourne Truth, declared before Warne had represented Australia that he would take 500 Test wickets. "You're an idiot," the editor barked and sacked Hogg. "No one will take 500 Test wickets," the editor said.
I suppose if you're being pedantic, Warne didn't claim 500 Test wickets.
He relied a lot on the help of former Australia legspinner Terry Jenner. Jenner was good at communicating and saw Warne through some tough times. When Warne collected only one expensive wicket on debut, TJ wanted to know what I thought of his bowling. "Don't be fooled by those ugly stats," I said to him. "He bowled a lot of good balls. He'll be okay."
Never did I imagine just how good he'd be.
Like Dennis Lillee before him, Warne had the fans on the edge of their seats because they felt every time he had the ball, something would happen. Marsh loved Lillee and most others who played aggressive cricket. That's why this week has been so hard. It's bad enough to lose Rod Marsh but to also have Shane Warne pass away is too much.
Please, can I just grieve in peace for a while.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a columnist