John Harms On Warnie

Warnie: Part I

Shane Keith Warne is an international man of mystery. He is never far from the limelight. His every move is reported (most of them, anyway).

Warnie has over 1,000,000 Twitter friends. He reaches 1,000,000 people in a jiffy. Something pops into his head and click,click,click,click with the thumb and they have his message. A few pass the message on and you have the quintessential twenty-first century, new media, viral situation. So big is Warnie – and there are those much bigger than he is – that his messages to the planet are often newsworthy.

But sheer reach is not the only reason Warnie gets reported. When it comes to cricket Warnie has more authority to analyse and comment than just about anyone. Warnie’s cricket record is outstanding and most respect his ability as a player and as an on-field strategist. He is regarded as intuitive to the nth degree; there is little book-learnin’ in Warnie’s cricket, or indeed in Warnie.

What makes this a wonderful situation for those of us who like a bit of colour in the greyness of our day is that Warnie goes off quickly. He is rather creative in his use of language and will draw on our understandings of established literary terms like ‘muppet’. He may well have the best intentions, he may well have the future of Australian cricket at heart, he may well have some very good ideas, but he is a see-ball-get-ball man who has little regard for the structures and processes which are required to sustain a large organisation. Shane Warne v James Sutherland and Cricket Australia is always going to yield sparks.

The interesting thing is that, in Bay 13 (and beyond), Warnie’s trigger-happy frankness makes him even more popular. Introduce the topic of mass bureaucracy as the chook raffle goes around on Friday afternoon at the pub and it doesn’t take long to find out what people think. Warnie taps into that frustration. He is the anti-bureaucrat, the man who takes the complication out of things. The bloke who just waddles in and bowls. The bloke who can save Australian cricket from itself.

I love that over the past few days the world waited on an essay from Warnie. Not known for his writing skills Warnie had cricket media and fans hanging out. When it wasn’t arriving, one journo tweeted, amusingly, that Warnie was no good with deadlines.

When Part I of The Warne Plan was posted on his website it certainly read in Warnie’s voice and it didn’t have too much that wasn’t obvious to say. Many cricket fans are saying the same things. From the outside we question the rotation policy and the ever-increasing stable from which Australian teams are nominated for the various forms of the game.

Warnie is a cricketer and he argues that cricketers want to play cricket. They want to secure a spot and hang on to it. Warnie’s thoughts on who those cricketers should be are in the pipeline right now. He has already offered a philosophical framework: they should be talented but, given many have talent, they should have the character and temperament to perform under the pressure of competing against the best in the world.

James Sutherland, cricket administrator, is not so concerned with Warne’s theses. He just doesn’t like hearing them through his own smartphone. He’d prefer a private meeting, which he will get once Warnie’s poker commitments are over. When that happens Warnie will certainly given an audience – even if the process is nothing more than a PR exercise.

This is an interesting time for Cricket Australia, a rather volatile time. It’s always an interesting time for Warnie.

Value bet: Warnie not to be made an Australian selector: $1.01