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Shane Warne:  A Villain and A Hero

I was not even a teen when Warne was a household name, but not in a good way. Perhaps, it was the same in most of the Asian houses. We wanted Sachin Tendulkar to win all the rivalry. Sri Lanka had Muralitharan and his records to protect. He was always the yin to our yang. The villain to our hero.

Perhaps, we all needed a villain. We all needed a villain to constantly challenge our heroes and remind them what they are capable of. Still, he was the most hated. He gave millions of reasons to hate too. He sledged everyone who came his way, something we aren’t used to. He spoke a lot on the field. He was always up for a word-war. Neither Sachin nor Murali did that. They went by their game silently. They usually smiled when their opponent got better of them.

Warne’s off-field admissions never helped him either. He was always on the wrong side or at least growing up, we all thought so. Even today, when you Google, you don’t get many controversial videos for our heroes but Warne carries thousands of them.

When Indians and Sri Lankans had their own reasons, England’s reason was different. He rattled every one of their players. Ended with deliveries they couldn’t even dream of. Haunted them with aggression, and the whole country never really recovered. Even today.

With Sachin, the epic battles were on-field but with Murali and Sri Lanka, it was more personal. The silent war that went between Murali and Warne was our superhero story during the 90s. Their respective countries were behind them. Their captains silently led the charge.

Murali’s action was reported. Warne shamed Ranatunga multiple times with his words, and in return, Ranatunga called him an average spinner, smashed him to take the cup. ‘Ranatunga owns Warne’ made it to the headlines, even on fan posters. It felt like a triumph over the evil at that time.

Perhaps because we never really heard “good things” about Warne. He would be sipping a beer in most of the pictures, something that’s uncommon in Asia. Our heroes never had those or showed that side of theirs’. And we were all too young to appreciate the technical perfection of the Gatting ball those days. When people called it a miracle, we called him a fraud and stood by that statement for years.

As time went by and IPL came, we were exposed to the good guy Warne. He was the leader of a pack that wasn’t filled with idols but just a bunch of guys with dreams. Warne’s overwhelming nature rubbed on everyone. It was a classic example of how one man’s will and contagious enthusiasm can change history and inspire a generation.

The IPL win also closed the gates of past rivalry and all of a sudden the anger turned into admiration. Different gates opened, and that led to a wider, whole new world where Warne was a hero. A world that we were not used to until that time. A world that appreciated Warne. Looked up to him as their hero. A world that is totally different from the small one we lived in. The one where Gatting Ball is the ball of the century. The one that has every reason to love Warne.

Perhaps it would’ve been a different story had IPL happened in the 90s. Perhaps, we would’ve loved Warne right from the start. Unfortunately, time doesn’t work that way. He will always be that hero who got away. The one we never really got connected.

Image- Getty Images

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