WHILE a smidgen of resentment may lie behind Shane Warne’s plan to re-engineer Australian cricket, it would be easy and wrong to forget how driven Warne was on the field. You don’t take 1000 international wickets by being a wall flower. To supplement your enormous skill you need a similar dose of will power and hard work.
Warne may have been one of the most naturally gifted cricketers in the history of the game but he also did the hard yards at practice, if not in the gym.
Leg-spin bowling is the toughest skill in cricket. Bowling the wrist-bending stuff is about finesse, touch, feel and strategic nous. It is not about brute force or the ubiquitous emotional bouncer following the cover-driven boundary.
His captaincy of the one-day team during a Steve Waugh injury was unsurprisingly insightful and successful. He knew the vital essence of playing cricket, getting the job done and getting the team across the line.
Warne is not alone among former players, coaches and fans who share a disaffection with the progress and process of Australian cricket. The Argus report has precipitated little change, the staff roster has been shuffled but apart from Tim Nielsen, who was summarily removed as coach , the deck chairs have been relocated and the Titanic sails on.
The environment entails a muddied selection policy, a playing schedule that on one hand is biased towards a domestic 20-over competition and on the other hand fails to let the fans’ favourite players compete in that competition. It suggests that the left hand not only has no clue what the right hand is doing but has been transplanted to another body.
As I have traversed the nation during the season I have been surprised at the depth of anger among players, contemporary and past, and the discontent among supporters. Despite protestations from coach Mickey Arthur, sports scientists are effectively picking the national teams.
The buck is not stopping on the desk of those with superior cricket knowledge.
Warne couldn’t understand the need or usefulness of boot camps under former coach John Buchanan, which makes it clear why he is so bothered by the current technocracy. Sadly, the Buchanan era has been paraded as the exemplar of Australia’s 15-year dominance.
The core of that epoch was the incredibly high skill levels and devotion, physical and mental, to the cause of victory. It is hard to imagine a more different approach to team building and on-field success than the current system compared with the Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh years, the same years in which Warne was an integral cog.
Warne may not have expressed himself in a suitably highbrow, erudite and expansive manner, but he cares deeply about Australian cricket and he knows how to win. He shot from the hip when he was on the field. Why should that be any different now?
So what if he has picked all his mates to take over the game, quite a few Victorians, as expected, and surprisingly few St Kilda onballers, but his loyalty is a part of his psyche and loyalty is a wobbly concept in Australian cricket at the moment.
I noticed he didn’t mention himself in any consultant or management position when obviously he could handle most of them.
Cricket Australia has called on Dennis Lillee after dispensing with his cost-prohibitive ”Pace Australia” services more than 15 years ago.
I assume Warne agreed with that placement, although his choice of Ian Chappell as the premier ”consultant” means Lillee is not the oldest staff member, given that he sacked John Inverarity.
If the secret of good management is appointing good people, then the new CA board could start with appointing a man whose heart and soul is rooted in cricket. But just to make sure he is serious, make it an honorary post.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.