Warne : A not-so-secret weapon...

Warne : A not-so-secret weapon...

Post by VIGNE.. » Sun, 20 Jun 1993 07:32:45

Warne delivers a potent threat; The Australian team's not-so-
secret Test weapon is a master of the art of leg spin.

Glenn Moore

Imagine it.  You're picked for your country after seven first-
class games, a  shock selection, all  your  dreams have  come
true. All except the happy ending. In the first game you drop
the  opposition opener  on 66 off your own bowling and at 100
off someone  else's; he goes  on to make 206, you  take 1 for
150 and only the  rain saves your team  from defeat against a
side they have been hammering all summer.

Worse  follows, in  the next  game you  take 0 for 78 and are
dropped.  Then, taken  on tour, you have another 107 runs hit
off your bowling in what are supposed to be helpful conditions.

At that point, 335 runs  conceded for one wicket taken, Shane
Warne's nagging belief that he did not belong in Test cricket
preyed  ever more  heavily on  his mind.  He wondered  aloud:
"What am I doing here?" Here was Colombo, the time last August,
with Australia batting and slipping towards a first defeat to
Sri Lanka. Sitting next to him, Allan Border told him to stick
at it: "I'm a great believer  in guys who  hang in there, one
day it'll click for you."

It did the  following  day as  Border, his  other  bowlers ex-
hausted, turned to  the young leg-spinner in an  act of faith
that was part courage, part desperation. Warne responded with
three wickets in 11 balls as Australia snatched the Test.  He
said he felt the "weight of the world lift off his shoulders".

In December he won the second Test against the West Indies in
Melbourne with a spell of 7 for 21, in March he took 7 for 86
against New Zealand in Christchurch. Last week England joined
the list of countries who have fallen to  Warne.  A happy end-
ing after all.

Except Warne is only 23: we  are just in the opening chapters.
His art is supposed to take years to perfect. Bob Holland and
Trevor Hohns, his predecessors on Ashes tours, were both look-
ing towards retirement when they had their finest hours.  Ian
Salisbury, four months younger and England's only  competitor,
may be as  capable of bowling a wicket-taking ball but is way
off  achieving the  sustained accuracy  that makes  Warne  so
dangerous. Salisbury however, began at 17, Warne at 12. India's
Anil Kumble, 22, has the accuracy but lacks the turn and vari-
ation of Warne.  Only Mushtaq Ahmed, also 22, rivals  him and
the New  Zealand captain, Martin  Crowe, having  played  both,
backs Warne.

Warne believes he now has nine different deliveries. His deve-
lopment is a tribute to the far-sighted and broad-minded atti-
tudes  of the Australian  national  set-up as well as his own
efforts and ability.  Not many selectors would have  retained
faith in Warne after his poor debut series against India(Ravi
Shastri was the double-centurion involved). But then they had
already picked Warne out as a talent to persevere with.

Born in Melbourne, Warne  progressed through Australia's test-
ing  grade-cricket  system to be selected for the Cricket Aca-
demy in 1990-91, along with Damien Martyn. That season he won
his way into the state side, but left the academy after being
left  out of a tour of  Sri Lanka  for  disciplinary  reasons.
Before  leaving, he  played against the  England tourists and
dismissed Robin Smith.

Like Smith, the West  Indies find leg-spinners harder to deal
with  than  throat-cutters, and  with  Australia's  quest  to
defeat them  reaching  Ashes status  the  search was on for a
young leggie to face them the following season.  With that in
mind, Warne  was sent to  Zimbabwe in  September 1991 with an
Australian XI  under Mark  Taylor, along  with Peter McIntyre.
Both were struggling to get into a  Victorian attack based on
seam bowling, but  although the  Test  selector John Benaud's
report  favoured McIntyre, Warne resisted  blandishments from
New South  Wales team-mates  to move to their  helpful Sydney
track, choosing to fight it out for a Victorian place.

He  succeeded  quickly  enough  to  be  picked to play for an
Australian XI  against  the West  Indies, who were  on a mini-
tour, taking 7 for 56 to keep the  selectors' long-term  plan
on line. That match not only earned him his Test debut a month
later and the selectors' support, it was also significant for
a change in his own attitudes. At that stage Warne was a mess
physically.  Three stone overweight, with a diet of junk food
and lager, he was a liability in the field and a larrikin off

The  day before  the game, Bobby  Simpson, Australia's  coach,
put him through  the wringer at fielding practice. By the end
Warne was a gasping wreck, unable to waddle after the simplest
catch, the  laughter of  his new team-mates, who included six
Test caps, ringing in his ears.  But he still got wickets and,
fortified by that, set about losing weight, more than 30lb in
all, and improving  his fielding.  The result is what the Sun
describes as ''a hunk'' although ''Hollywood'', as he is nick-
named, is not the hell-raiser he was. It was announced yester-
day, in fact,that he has just proposed to his fiancee, Simone.

Simpson, no mean leg-spinner  himself, believes Warne can get
even  better.  ''He bowled  better in Sri  Lanka than  in Man-
chester,'' he said. ''He is still  serving his apprenticeship
and is learning so much. He had a difficult debut, the Indian
batsmen are as  good at  playing leg-spin  as anyone, but  we
don't just  pick a player for one Test, we picked him for the

What a novel idea . . .

Thanks      :::       The Independent


UMass, June 18, 1993