Larrikin is a uniquely Australian expression that means a mischievous young person, an uncultivated, rowdy but good-hearted person’. And the Australians tend to love their larrikins. Shane Warne falls into the classic Australian larrikin mode. Here was a terrific cricketer, one of the greats of the game, but also a,Larrikin is a uniquely Australian expression that means a mischievous young person, an uncultivated, rowdy but good-hearted person’. And the Australians tend to love their larrikins. Shane Warne falls into the classic Australian larrikin mode. Here was a terrific cricketer, one of the greats of the game, but also a rebel who took on almost every coach and captain, got himself banned from a World Cup for taking a diuretic tablet and often found himself in the tabloids for a variety of reasons.Warne has clashed with almost every form of authority possible and been in trouble for a variety of misdemeanours, but his popularity in Australia and in cricket circles remains intact.No Spin, published in October 2018, is his latest stab at an autobiography. There was an earlier one, released in 2002, when he was still playing for Australia, which was a disappointingly politically correct account of his early playing days. With No Spin, Warne has definitely tried to give a more honest and detailed account of his life, both on and off the field. The tone and the look, right down to the cover picture, seems inspired by Andre Agassi’s Open (2009), which became the gold standard in sports autobiographies.The first thing you notice about No Spin is that, unlike a traditional autobiography, it zigzags back and forth through time. In effect, Warne and his co-writer, Mark Nicholas, recorded a series of interviews across various topics and then decided to club the resulting content together into broad themes and chapters. This tends to make it great for snacking’ a chapter or two at a time, but not perfect for an end-to-end read. Warne has probably got it right though: few of his intended readers would probably have the patience to read this from cover to cover.advertisement The first thing you notice about No Spin is that, unlike a traditionalautobiography, it zigzags back and forth through time.However, it is a book of many parts, and a lot of the parts are entertaining. Warne’s description of his Australian cricketing days is where he really hits his straps, and some of his accounts are fascinating. He was one of the most astute readers of the game and his account of the Ball of the Century’, his first ever ball in an Ashes Test, which bowled Mike Gatting, was fascinating. His on-air conversation with commentator Brendon Julian while playing for the Melbourne Stars is a classic: Never before has a bowler described how he planned to trap a batsman (Brendon McCullum, in this case) on live television and then gone out to take his wicket.The other extremely revealing parts are in his description of his mentor, former Australian spinner Terry Jenner, and the mental and cricket tips imparted by him. Warne didn’t usually take kindly to coaching, but Jenner is clearly the man he credits with making him the bowler he became. And because Jenner was such a big influence, his interactions with every other coach left a lot to be desired. He had absolutely no time for coach John Buchanan, who famously won two World Cups, and the slightly unorthodox methods he used in his training regimen. Clearly, a week in the Australian bush with the army and no booze or cigarettes was not Warne’s idea of training. He has a similar disdain for the almost religious reverence for the Australian flag or the baggy green caps’ among many Australian cricketers.So while Mark Waugh was a close friend and one of the lads’, Warne’s antagonism for brother Steve Waugh and his seemingly over-the-top patriotism comes through. Shane clashed repeatedly with Steve and his anger at being dropped in Sri Lanka is still palpable.Warne’s description of his IPL days with the Rajasthan Royals makes for great reading. In a format others were just beginning to get, his leadership in that first championship year was absolutely top-drawer. And while the rest soon caught on and caught up, given their limited resources, the Rajasthan Royals under him always punched above their weight.As far as the tabloid fare goes, after all the racy News of the World accounts, Warne’s post-mortems of his various peccadilloes are underwhelming, even his explanation of sexcapades like the time he was caught on camera in a threesome with two scantily clad UK fans. There is a lot of Liz Hurley though, enough to satisfy those looking for the real story.And for the typical Indian reader: yes, he thinks Sachin and Lara are the greatest, and he would probably want Sachin to bat for his life, but Lara if he was chasing 400 in the fourth innings. There is a little bit, in the end though, about the Warne Tendulkar All Star Games in the US, and the fallout of that tournament, and though they may be cordial in public, I can’t see Sachin coming for the book release.advertisementAll in all, a great bathroom companion, but not the one book you’d take to a desert island. But then again, few are.
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