Time for Shane Warne to `dial it down`

By Feroz Khan | Last Updated: Jan 29, 2013, 15:52 PM IST

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the name Shane Warne? Is it that bamboozling ‘ball of the century’ that left Mike Gatting gathering his thoughts for a moment after shouldering his arms while trying to make sense of what actually transpired? Would you fondly remember him holding a stump while acknowledging a capacity Sydney crowd that had gathered to witness, one last time, three of its heroes dressed in whites going with their routine as they crushed England? Or do you mostly remember him for his off-field antics? Chances are it will be a combination of the memories that he gave in his long cricketing career – both good and cheesy. There were moments of utter brilliance that left you dazzled and then there were times when you wished the reasons of him being in the news weren`t true. Nevertheless, he was or rather still is a character that continues to provide wholesome entertainment.

Shane Warne is again making headlines years after he bid goodbye to international cricket. And this time it’s not because of his bowling and on field magic. Well, even during his international career it wasn`t just his cricketing skills that were a source of amusement. His was a career that will be equally remembered for being a gifted cricketer and also being in the possession of a personality that acted as a magnet to controversies.

Warne is one of those rare characters in modern cricket whose life is a continuous supply of mouth-watering stuff that adorn the headlines of tabloids. This is something which is a rarity in cricket and is popularly considered to be a fiefdom of footballers. When compared to his peers he seems to be a misfit. Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis or Muttiah Muralitharan - the legends of his time - they all had a quiet lifestyle. They made headlines for the right reasons – their cricket. Seldom would they be in news because of how they lived their private lives. This is not to say that they were recluse. They followed a simple rule – keeping their personal life to themselves while leaving their careers to open scrutiny.

Warne, on the other hand led (still leads) a colourful life. Be it his act of admitting smoking even after being offered USD 130800 to quit it or being sent home from the 2003 cricket world cup for drug abuse, he was always providing fodder to the newsmen. At one time, he was stripped of Australian vice-captaincy not for his incompetence but for his admission of sending obscene messages to a nurse during his stint in county cricket in 2000.

Then there were certain aspects that shouldn’t have come to light – his romp with models, affair with stripper et al which ultimately resulted in his divorce. These affairs were a part of his personal life but being a public figure he couldn’t escape the scrutiny and being in the headlines.

Warnie isn’t considered to be an ideal role model. A popular belief is that you want to bowl like Warne or possess a cricketing brain as his but never will you want to emulate his personality.

The latest addition to his rich list of controversies is the spat with Marlon Samuels. He was fined and suspended for breaching Cricket Australia’s Code of Behaviour.

Warne’s current behaviour doesn’t suit his reputation. He is the face of a domestic tournament (Big Bash League). What message is the Australian giving to the next generation? Throwing ball at your opponent in response to an alleged misconduct is nothing but childish. Of course, what Marlon Samuels did wasn’t in the spirit of the game either. Grabbing Michael Hussey’s shirt while the batsman was attempting a second run isn’t what you would expect of him when he talks about cricket being just a game and not a war.

Warne is an entertainer in the truest sense. Be it his bowling, batting, fielding or off-field antics, everything has a potential of being a source of amusement. However, the time has come when he really has to dial it down. He looks fit, lean and nothing like someone in his forties. However, neither his attitude nor his on-field performances look as neat as his chiselled looks. The current figures summing up his performance in the BBL will tell you that he isn’t the champion bowler he used to be.

His histrionics would have been somewhat acceptable had he been churning out performances that have made him the legend he is considered to be today. He looks nothing but a pale shadow of his old self. A life away from being an active cricketer or maybe in administration or in the game of poker looks best suited for him at the moment. He should cut himself some slack and stop ruining his reputation.