During the summer Ashes series in England, I was left a touch confused and baffled (to start with) by some of Shane Warne’s comments and statements he was making about the England team.
He seemed more concerned with England than he did with Australia. Jonathan Trott and predominately Alastair Cook’s captaincy seemed to be in Warne’s sights, as he singled them out for public scrutiny.
As this went on, a theme started to develope, and it soon became obvious why.
When Shane Warne first burst on to the scene he was almost unplayable. Later in his career, age and injuries caught up with him, and Warne wasn’t the bowler he first was (he was still bloody good though).
His batting then improved no end, and he also became a top class slip fielder, and more importantly – in my view – he learnt how to use his mouth to greater effect.
Warne had a reputation for being a load mouthed larrikin, and that seemed to be a correct reading of him.
But… the way I remember him in the latter half of his career, was as a load mouth, but he was a very thoughtful load mouth.
Instead of opening his mouth, and nonsense coming out, he was talking in a far more constructive way. He learnt how to get into the heads of batsmen, intimidate them in the media, and on the pitch.
He put pressure on opposing players and umpires alike, he wasn’t just taking wickets with cricketing ability, he was taking wickets with mind games, and intimidation. Just think back to Ian Bell and the Sherminator gag.
Warne knew where to find the opposition’s weak points, and he exposed them. And he is still doing it now.
He knows that there is little point trying to undermine Bell’s technique and temperament now, so he is trying to get into his head with talk about moving him up the order. He has gone after Matt Prior, suggesting he should move up to 6, Alastair Cook’s captaincy, Trott’s playing of the short ball, etc, etc….
Warne is a master of the mind games, and he is still doing it today, and still taking English wickets in my view. If Australia do go on to win this series, then I believe he has to take some credit for his campaign of undermining the England set up since the series back in England.
It has been a systematic performance from Warne. He is exerting pressure on England without even playing, it is unbelievable stuff, and the Aussie team owe him in my view.
The cricket betting odds suggest that the bookmakers and punters alike all think that Australia are going to wrap up the Ashes in Perth. The Aussies are an unbackable 1.08 to win the series now.
Warne himself has actually complemented Alastair Cook’s captaincy in Adelaide, claiming Day 1 of the Test was Cook’s most impressive day as a skipper (in the field).
He also said – what I believe to be true also – that but for a few dropped catches, it could have been England’s day.
The final result of both Test matches suggest Australia have battered England, and in a way they have. But the matches have both been over by the end of Day 2, and what has happened on the remaining days have been pretty irrelevant (apart from a bit of pride), and made the performances look worse.
There isn’t a massive amount between these two sides. Mitchell Johnson apart, the teams are pretty much on a par. So a bit of luck, maybe a win at the toss, etc, and the fact that Australia only have two Test victories in four months (as Michael Clarke eluded too), should give England some hope and optimism.
The Aussies could start doubting themselves again, and if England can start taking those half chances in the field, and start to bat properly, then Perth won’t be the forgone conclusion everyone is suggesting it will be.
They are two pretty big ‘ifs’ though!!
At the moment though, it’s Warne’s Ashes.