When athletes retire, many transition to a comfortable media career, various coaching jobs, focus on charity work or stay out of the spotlight completely.
Not Shane Warne.
Arguably Australia’s greatest bowler, Warne is more present now than when he played.
With his commentary duties, occasional coaching, poker tournaments and charity work, Warney’s a busy man. Nothing wrong with that.
The problem is, Warney can’t stop being Warney, soap opera drama and all. When Warney was playing, you could tolerate it because he’d invariably perform on the field. Now there’s no spin magic to save him.
Recently Warne defended Michael Clarke after his retirement criticism. Nothing wrong with that, as Warne was the first to interview Clarke after the Trent Bridge loss. It was Warney’s potshots at John Buchanan which rankled.
Warne and Buchanan never got on as player and coach. Warne wasn’t shy in questioning Buchanan’s cerebral methods. It was a personality clash. You’d expect Warney to stick a “kick me” sign on Buchanan’s back or replace his pens with spiders. While Warne is entitled to defend Clarke, reigniting the dormant feud with Buchanan seems unnecessary. At best it’s petty, at worst it could create a whole new drama that Cricket Australia doesn’t need.
His commentary for Nine can be fascinating and frustrating.
When Warne talks cricket, he’s insightful, interesting and has bold ideas. His heart’s in the right place. Then he tries too hard to be matey with “Tubby”, “Slats”, “Heals”, “Binga”, talk about pizza and uses horrible sporting slang. Yes, Nine’s culture is more blokey than others (like Andrew Johns and Brad Fitter’s weekly love-in on the Sunday NRL Footy Show), but it’s horribly self-indulgent.
Maybe Warney can’t help himself. He’s described his life as a soap opera, so he probably loves the attention more than bowling to Daryll Cullinan. This is the same man who was briefly engaged to “actress and model” Liz Hurley, complete with gross PDAs, lovey-dovey Twitter exchanges and Ken doll transformation.
During a recent Ashes lunch break, Warne, Healy and Ricky Ponting ran a televised masterclass. It was fascinating. Warne, bowling off one step, spun big and landed the ball at will. Healy kept beautifully and Ponting played some nice drives. The trio had fun with pretend field settings and educational technical talk and analysis.
This is the Warney we should see more of; the wily, experienced 700+ wicket general who uses his cricket knowledge to entertain us and help the game he loves.