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Revealed: Wizard of Oz’s book of spells

Everyone’s wondering about the secret of Jaipur’s success. Shane Warne has turned a band of relative unknowns into a chart-topping unit. Varun Gupta unravels Warne’s superb new-age management skills.

cricket Updated: May 17, 2008 01:40 IST
Varun Gupta

Shane Warne was the best skipper Australia never had, said many. At 38, more than a year into his international retirement, the captain and coach of the Jaipur IPL team has turned a band of relative unknowns into a chart-topping unit.

Everyone’s wondering about the secret of Jaipur’s success. Well, we might just have found it, along with proof of Warne’s superb new-age management skills. In a four-page team document that talks about what each player will do, a copy of which the Hindustan Times has, Warne has detailed each player’s strengths, weaknesses and role.

The document was handed over to team members present on April 18, ahead of their first game against Delhi on April 19, and it took just a few practice sessions and matches for Warne to gauge his team. He, along with assistant coach Darren Berry, meticulously prepared a dossier on each player and assigned them titles according to their roles. Watson, for instance, is ‘The Enforcer while Niraj Patel is the ‘Innings Manipulator.’

From Munaf (‘The Pace Setter’), he’s asked that he “hit the wicket hard and provide pace at the start.

Use high full-toss if needed, angle in from wide of crease at (someone like) Virender Sehwag.” For the unheralded Dinesh Salunkhe (‘The Game Changer’) he instructs: “1. Bowl stump-to-stump fast leg-spin and be ready to bowl at any stage vs new batsman. 2. Try bowling from around the wicket as practiced. Remember, first ball is the best ball. 3. Slap some hard balls down the order to get us over the line.”

Teammates swear that there is a certain bristling, unflinching determination about Warne when he enters the field, and a “mere five minutes of his pep talk is enough to rouse even the dead”. The kind of roles and objectives he has assigned to his mates are incredibly interesting, not for what he demands from them, but for their detail and the thought that has gone into each person.

Each thing is planned and documented. “We want to be the cleverest team in the competition,” is a phrase that has been the motif of his press conferences over the last fortnight. It seems that, as ever, he wasn’t just talking through his hat!