Warne’s magic and artistry will persist forever

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

Your humble servant was a small journalist. As an admirer of Warne, there was this burning desire to interview ‘Mr. Hollywood.’ Luckily, this correspondent met Warne around 10:30 a.m. in the hotel lobby as he was coming out of breakfast. And, the Aussie, after much persuasion, promised an exclusive but, smiling, added “You gotta wait mate.”

It’s time to wait

The Australians, having beaten New Zealand the previous night, left Chennai late in the afternoon. It was time to wait, the clock was ticking and the Australians were about to board the team bus. Hopes for an interview have apparently faded.

Then Warne got off the elevator. He came over and said, “Let’s do it quick mate.”

He talked about the massive broken leg that knocked a shocked Mike Gatting down. “The ball changed the complexion of the series, the English never trusted me after that,” Warne said.

The Australian shed light on Basit Ali’s dismissal with the final delivery of the day.

“Basit loves wasting time, I wasted time too and made him sweat on the last ball,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

Warne revealed he planned the dismissal with “a keen observer” Ian Healy, who advised him to castling Basit from the outside of the leg stump. The plan worked.

And Warne said something that made him a legendary player. “Just because drummers can pick my bad ‘one, flipper or whatever, they still don’t know how fast it’s gonna come, how far it’s gonna spin, how much it’s gonna bounce.”

The genius kept hitters guessing even as he developed new tricks to accompany his classic flight, turn, dive and drift, all delivered with impeccable control.

Incredibly, the interview took place even as her friends waited on 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 treating a niggle. He was still talking.

Afterwards, on visits to Australia, the legend, now a commentator, will always be friendly and welcoming.

There were conversations about the leg-spin, which were not interviews. Warne said, “Don’t let interviews get in the way of friendship, buddy.

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

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