Can cricket watching be the same minus Warne?

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: He had the stealth of a panther rustling through the bushes on its haunches after having spotted an unsuspecting fawn. He had the courage of the tiger and the demeanour too when faced with aggression. He was like a snake whose hood had been inadvertently stroked; hissing, venomous and capable of striking at any given instant.

Yet, if enjoying the game was what it all had to be, then he perhaps clocked more smiles per over than any other bowler in the game’s history. After all, wasn’t he the one who took all the wickets, a mind-numbing 700 of them in Test cricket? One thousand in all in international cricket?

Shane Warne has retired. Yes, he has. Perhaps cosmic regulations that govern our planet don’t allow anything or anybody to go on for ever! It all had to come to an end some day. For Warne, it was 5 January 2007. The day the Aussies simply folded the Englishmen like a child would a strip of chewing gum before casually chewing it!

To say that Shane Warne was one of the most colourful personalities both on and off the cricket field is a bit like saying that the Amazon is a river! In other words, it was a given!

His dalliances with members of the fairer sex. His not- so-decent telephonic tryst with a nurse. His urge to smoke even after he had announced he wouldn’t. His boyish charm and high spiritedness. His clear-as-broad-daylight talent. His attitude towards his craft.

A man who wrote his own script although he once said that God had done a pretty good job of writing it in his case!

A man who was born to excel, to show off, to be different from the rest of the pack, to possess the genius to tease, draw, cajole, taunt, confuse, mystify and finish men who confronted him with a bat in hand at a cricketing crease.

Much to his own joy and that of his team mates who always came rushing to him at every demise of a bemused batsman, tousling his mop of blonde hair and merrily slapping him on his back.

The ink in the pens of cricket writers went dry soon after it dawned that we would never again see Shane Warne at the top of his bowling mark with a ball in hand.

The sight, though, will forever endure in the mind; of the blonde haired magician, whose incantation of ‘Abracadabra’ was always heard through the rattle of timber; with yet another ill-fated batsman standing transfixed at the batting crease, invariably in a pose of pathetic contortion, having completely misread the googly.

In some part of the world. On some cricket ground. With his team mates jumping around like a bunch of Kangaroos, in the throes of indescribable joy.