Rediff Logo Cricket
June 30, 1999


send this report to a friend

Come come Warnie, let's go party

Dean Jones

All of Australia is still busy celebrating its magnificient win in the World Cup. Motorcade processions, civic and government receptions, it's all happening for them. And Prime Minister John Howard chipped in to do his bit when he called on all employers to go a little easy on employees turning up late to work -- now that's my idea of a great PM.

Steve Waugh and the lads won't ever forget the 100,000-strong crowd that turned up in Victoria to welcome them home. The loudest cheers, of course, were for hometown heroes Shane Warne, Damien Fleming and Paul Reiffel.

The weather was magnificient and so was the reception -- fans crammed on every balcony, behind every window, showering paper streamers down on their heroes like it was going out of style, while every politician and celebrity worth the name hung around beaming proudly.

Warne was very much the man of the moment -- probably because his future seems under a bit of a cloud. An impromptu vote was taken from the crowd about whether Warne should continue his career, and the response was a resounding 'Yes!' from all assembled. Warne for his part weighed in with a calm, composed "Well, we'll see."

Said an obviously overwhelmed Steve Waugh: “These are times that the players will never forget. Sometimes, when you are overseas, you don’t realise how big the support is back home. But today, this reinforces for us that a lot of people out here love Australian cricket."

Players have been inundated with requests for television, radio, school and company commitments. But they aren't having any just yet -- most of them are completely tired after being literally on the road for 6 months. Add to that a 24-hour flight to get back home, and trying to find time for their loved ones, and one gets the feeling the World Cup winners right now are running on adrenalin and nothing but.

Shane Warne meanwhile is still contemplating his future. He did say that he would have no problems touring Sri Lanka in August -- if, that is, he decided to continue playing international cricket. Mind you, I would not like to be his roommate, or sitting next to him on a bus, just for insurance sake. “Contrary to what people think, I have no problems with the people of Sri Lanka, my only problem is with Arjuna Ranatunga. We have sort of a boxing match on that has lasted for a very long time," Warne said. "He has swung some punches and I have swung some punches.... I suppose there has never been a knock out blow. In the next few weeks I will decide on my future.”

> These statements astound me. Warne now has ensured that instead of coming home for a well-earned rest, he will be pestered for weeks regarding his future. Warne is one of the greatest players Australia has produced, but he has also done other things as a cricketer. He took money from an illegal bookmaker; he all but chased an opposition batsman off the pitch; he laughed hoonishly at an opposition batsman; he took money not to smoke and then got caught with a fag in his mouth; he got dropped from the Test team and the pouted while talking about retirement; in victory he jigs about on cricket ground balconies in the most boorish manner; he writes stupid things about an opposition captain and is offended when he is criticised in return.

Shane Warne thinks all of this is so unfair, that he is picked on, and is a tall poppy being lopped at every opportunity. But all of these things are brought on by his own behaviour. These decisions are his own, yet he does nothing but lament about how he has been reduced to the status of a one-day bowler.

Surely the players must realise they owe their supporters more than just leg-breaks, in-swingers and late cuts. They owe them respect. Each player has a binding contract with the public: Represent us completely, as people and sportsmen. You make your money out of cricket and flogging cars, cereals, jeans, jewellery and soft drinks. Heavens, if you want to take, then give as well.

That is common sense, common decency. A fair trade. It is not a tough deal. Look how utterly unconditional we were last Wednesday at the motorcade parade. We don’t want much, Warney. But just like you, we want a little respect, too.

Michael Bevan also had his share of problems recently. He had his kit bag stolen in his home and had to send out a ransom to retrieve all of his Australian shirts, bats, hats and other memorabilia items from the World Cup. Bevan received a call from the thief who demanded that Australian $5000 be paid in a carpark near Bevan’s home. All of the goods were retrieved. The police were very upset with Bevan and his management for going along with the thieves' requests, without their knowledge because anything could have happened.

In the next few weeks the Australian cricket selectors will be assessing everyone’s performance. I have no doubt that in the next 18 months there will be many changes to this victorious team. The major reason for this change is that many players are getting older. Four years down the track is along way away.

Australia started to prepare for this World Cup 18 months ago. Some tough decisions were made on players then. I have no doubt the Australians will start preparing for the next World Cup 3 years out. You see, we like being No 1 in the world, but that comes with a price. My only worry is that many players like Moody, Reiffel, Fleming, the Waughs and maybe Warne will be almost impossible to replace.

Cricket has come along way and hopefully it will entertain us in years to come. It certainly can help bring nations together if played in the right way. Let’s hope the constant conflict between India and Pakistan about its borders could be settled soon, and that cricket could be used to bring those two great countries together.

 Name: Email:
 Post a message:

Tell us what you think of this column