Shane Warne's magic and artistry live on

The genius kept batters guessing even as he developed new tricks to go with his classical flight, turn, dip and drift, all delivered with immaculate control.

The year was 1996. The Australians were in Chennai for the World Cup. So too was Shane Warne.   -  V.V. Krishnan

The year was 1996. The Australians were in Chennai for the World Cup. So too was Shane Warne.

Yours truly was a cub reporter. As an admirer of Warne, there was this burning desire to interview ‘Mr. Hollywood.’

Fortunately, this correspondent ran into Warne at around 10.30 a.m. in the hotel lobby as he emerged from breakfast. And, the Aussie, after much coaxing, promised an exclusive but, flashing a smile, added, “You got to wait, mate.”

The Australians, having defeated New Zealand the previous night, were leaving Chennai late afternoon. It was time to wait, the clock ticked, and the Australians were about to board the team bus. Hopes of an interview seemingly ebbed away.

Then Warne alighted from the lift. He came up and said, “Let’s do it quickly, mate.” 

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He spoke about the huge leg-break that bowled a shell-shocked Mike Gatting. “The ball changed the complexion of the series, the Englishmen were never confident to me after that,” Warne said.   

The Aussie shed light on dismissing Basit Ali with the day’s last delivery. “Basit loves to waste time, I too wasted some time and made him sweat on the last ball,” he said with a sparkle in his eyes.

Warne revealed he had planned the dismissal with Ian Healy, “a shrewd observer,” who advised him to castle Basit from outside the leg-stump. The plan worked.

And Warne said something that made him a legendary leg-spinner. “Just because batsmen can pick my wrong 'un, my flipper or whatever it might be, they still do not know how fast it is going to come in, how far it is going to turn, how much it is going to bounce.”

The genius kept batters guessing even as he developed new tricks to go with his classical flight, turn, dip and drift, all delivered with immaculate control.

Incredibly, the interview was on even as his mates waited in the bus. After it was over, Warne said, “See, I kept my word.”

It later became known that Warne was at the masseur’s table for most of the day, nursing a niggle. Still, he spoke.

Subsequently, during visits to Australia, the legend, who was by now a commentator, would always be friendly and welcoming.

There were conversations on leg-spin, which were not interviews. Warne would say, “Don’t let interviews come in the way of friendship, mate.”  

Now he is gone leaving all of us devastated. But then, Warne’s magic and artistry live on.

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