Thursday, December 21, 2006

The sheikh of tweak

 
 In this post I am going to go the way of all the garrulous cricket commentators who irritate me no end with their verbal diarrhoea. I am going to use every platitude, every cliche in the book. Because, try as I might, I don't think I'll ever be fluent enough in the language to describe who to my mind, is the greatest cricketer to have walked the planet. And he's just announced his retirement, leaving cricket much the poorer for it.
Shane Warne, The sheikh of tweak. The blond bamboozler. Hollywood. A genius on the field. A tharki (the Hindi word sounds better than the English one) little bastard off it. He was all of that and more. I've said it before and I'll say it again: In all the 21 years that I have been watching the game, I have not seen anyone who is more capable of making a difference in a test match. If I can stick my neck out, and say another sacrligeous thing; I don't think anyone in the history of the game, ever, has been more capable of deciding a test match, Bradman and Sobers included.
But obviously, this great man, this genius, has been about more than statistics and wins and losses. He has been about the big, looping, drifting, dipping, ripping leg breaks that are so orgasmic to watch. He has been about the flipper, the zooter, the slider and the toppie, which when used as variations with his sharply turning leg breaks, have spelt the death knell for so many batters over the last decade and a half. And about talking up each of those deliveries so that even when he lost the ability to control half of them in the latter half of his career, he still beat the batter in the mind. And he was about the wonderful, intelligent sledge, although Tubby Taylor claims that he was more about the four lettered word followed by some incoherent nonsense. The only flaws I can think of are a) The sparingly used googly, which he rarely bowled, because, in his own words, good batsmen could pick it up and b) An over reliance, sometimes, on trying to bowl the batsman out behind his legs or at slip or short-leg. To those who might wonder why I think he should be faulted for that when he has 700 test wickets, 
the answer is simple: His record in India would have been infinitely better had he mastered the art of enticing batsmen to go over the top or through cover a la Subhash Gupte.
Having said that however, he did revive classical leg-spin, post Qadir. Is he the greatest spinner ever? Yes; I am sure of that. The Indians who bitch about his record against India being poor, and about Murali being the better bowler, can go stuff it. Murali's record against India is comparable.
Warney's action is infinitely cleaner, and he is far better to watch.
I wish he would play on longer, as long as he physically can, but I can understand his desire to quit. Just as well Australia lost the last Ashes, else he would have retired then apparently. Kinda makes me wish Australia had lost these Ashes too. Well, whatever! Warney, you will be missed.
 

32 Comments:

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Nice Blog, some interesting info and thoughts, a bit radical for me at times but thats ok.

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Blogger Ninad said...

Yeah mate, Warney will be sorely missed. I beg to differ on your point of him being the greatest cricketer to have walked the planet. There are a lot more contenders for that spot. Out of the ones I've seen, I think Glenn MCgrath and Steve Waugh are two names on top of my list. Jonty Rhodes, goodness me, wasn't he one of the greatest.
I think its the way the entire Aussie media, public and commentators project a person is what makes a difference. I clearly remember that Shane Warne used to say that he's going to unleash some mystery delivery before an Ashes series called "XYZ" which the media would hype so much. And then the commentators would try and find subtle differences in his deliveries and brand one kind of delivery as "XYZ". That doesn't take anything away from Warney. My point is, cricket is a team game and in Australia, other than the 11 on the field, the team includes the commentators, the media and sometimes the cricket authorities too.

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Blogger Tugga said...

@Ninad: Jonty Rhodes???????? Hell no!!! Not even in the top 100 of all time!!!

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Blogger Ninad said...

If the best fielder of alltime cant even qualify for one of the best players of alltime, then I think you are biased towards a few aspects of the game. You are being unfair. Jonty had the ability to transform the least glamorous apsect of the game into a delightful spectacle.

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Blogger Tugga said...

@Ninad: Without taking anything away from the glamor Rhodes brought to fielding, let us just ponder this. There have been so many batters who brought artistry to batting, and yet they do not classify as great. In other words, just because a cricketer makes something look good does not make him great. Quite simply, brilliant fielding and batting win you test matches, brilliant fielding rarely does, although poor fielding can cost you test matches. More specifically, looking at Jonty, he was an exceptional ground fielder, but only a good catcher. I'd think Mark waugh was a far superior and allround fielder. He could field anywhere close to the stumps, and he held blinders in the slips that Jonty could only dream of catching. In that, he was far more useful in deciding test matches thatn Jonty ever was. So do I call him one of the greatest ever? Not even close!!

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Blogger Minal said...

what a class farewell to legend....have not read a better one...deserves to be write up there above all cricinfo, guardian, sportstar etc write -ups!!!

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