Shane Warne lives on in every nook, corner and turn in Melbourne | Cricket News



MELBOURNE: Nine months after his death, Shane Warne is a memory but one so tangible you could almost hold on to it while crisscrossing the streets of his hometown Melbourne or its beaches and cricket grounds.
One of cricket’s biggest entertainers, Warne is present in spirit and in the joy and madness of Melbourne.
Whether at the St Kilda Cricket Club ground where his supple wrists first started having ‘serious conversations’ with the red Kookaburra or the Brighton beach, where he would come for a sun bath or for a quick run to strengthen his lower body.
It’s almost as if the 53-year-old, whose death in Thailand stunned the world of cricket and beyond, lives on in every nook, corner and turn.
Shane Warne’s life size statue, in that iconic leg spin pose, stands tall outside the MCG.
And one fan has actually got a mural painted on the wall of his home in Dalgaty Lane as a mark of tribute. And little wonder, it is slowly turning into a tourist destination.
But to know Warne, a visit to St Kilda Cricket Club — a beautiful ground in the inner suburb of South Melbourne where he first learnt the art of leg-spin — is a must.
A young Warne was a star at the Club in Melbourne’s grade cricket.
The first seeds of greatness were sown in the Warne household backyard and his younger brother Jason had the best seat in the house.
“We played cricket, and every other sport against each other endlessly while growing up. He always tried to spin the ball as much as possible and started landing it more consistently in his teenage years. He was a natural sportsman and was genuinely good in most of the games,” Jason recollected the early days.
The pain of losing his brother could be felt when Jason spoke about the departed spin wizard.
“Anyone who has lost a family member would know, losing your only brother is very difficult.
“As others do, I had to come to terms with the fact that moments we shared regularly would never happen again. There won’t be any more conversations, that were a part of my whole life, no more arguments, competitions or disagreements about cricket and sport.”
Jason worked as Warne’s business manager and for months he couldn’t bring himself to set his foot in MCG, which Warne had reserved for some of his best performances.
“I actually went to the MCG for the first time last week since his memorial, it also happened to be the first time the Australian team was due to play in front of ‘The Shane Warne Stand’, I must admit, it was quite emotional,” he said.
A few minutes’ drive from the St. Kilda CC is a quiet colony, the Dalgaty Lane.
In that lane, investment banker Anton Whitehead owns a house where you find one of the most beautiful murals. A muti-coloured facial portrait of Warne was drawn by professional artist Matt Ling, an Australian of Chinese descent.
The mural’s inspiration is a Sheffield Shield match where Warne played for Victoria. The Mural, full of colours, is a celebration of life. His life was never a monochrome but a rainbow with all its hues.
One of ardent Warne fans, Whitehead, who is in his mid 60s was present at the Old Trafford during the 1993 Ashes where the maestro bowled Mike Gatting round his legs with what is now known as the ‘Ball of the Century’.
“When Shane passed away, I was very sad like millions of cricket lovers. I got in touch with the artist and commissioned him to do the painting for me. That’s how I wanted to remember Warnie,” Whitehead told PTI.
So how much time did it take to create the mural?
“Matt planned one day and painted it the next day. A full day’s painting and then another day to tidy the work,” said Whitehead.
Interestingly Whitehead never in his life got a chance to interact with Warne.
“I never spoke to Warnie but I was privileged to be present at Old Trafford (Manchester) on the day, he got Mike Gatting out. I was lucky to be there that day. I watched a lot of cricket. As a young boy, I had watched Bishan Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna during India’s 1967-68 series,” recollected Whitehead.
To watch Warne roll his wrists and conjure up those mesmerising spells was an unforgettable experience.
In those five to seven seconds that Warne bowled a delivery, a batter’s face would display an entire gamut of emotions.
The intensity with which they tried to figure out the trajectory of the ball, the eyes popping out as the ball took revs in the air before dipping and the despair when they lunged forward and saw the red cherry hiss past the edge of the bat, it was pure magic.
And finally the resigned look as a delighted Warne had his hands in the air and Adam Gilcrhrist, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Mark Waugh surrounded him.
“He didn’t see himself as a magician, just someone who worked hard to get the best from his natural ability,” said Jason.
“He always tried to be the best player he could be. As a talented sportsman, things came naturally to him, however, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have to work hard. He did work very hard to become the best he could.”
Warne will always be in our conscience. The wrist can never be history.


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