The thing with Shane Warne is that he speaks with so much conviction, so much belief that he can make a believer out of anyone. For someone who believed that coach is just a thing that takes the players to the ground, it is quite an experience watching him fulfill his dual role as the captain-cum-coach of the Rajasthan team with gusto and nobility.
For someone so flippant and nonchalant off-field in his heydays, Warne has taken to the mentoring role as KPS Gill has to the IHF presidency. The players, it is learnt, are so smitten by his “easy-going way’, the passion that he displays, and his meticulous approach” that they can’t stop raving about him.
“He is a champion, on and off the field,” said a player of the Rajasthan team on condition of anonymity, owing to a media ban imposed by the franchise on the players.
“Earlier, I was in awe of him but now he has made us all so comfortable. He constantly guides and motivates us and is never shy to crack a joke and enliven the atmosphere. His professionalism is really awe-inspiring,” he gushed, straining to hide his emotion.
Another senior player was equally lavish in his praise and revealed that he is getting “so much to learn from the great man that he wished he had met him sooner.”
Before the first game in Delhi, Warne had prepared a document for each member of the squad, assigning him their roles and reminding them of their duties. At the nets too he is a bundle of energy and can be seen constantly motivating and advising his team. He has taken a special liking to Ravindra Jadeja and Dinesh Salunkhe and is never shy to hail them as the next superstars of Indian cricket.
On Wednesday, the eve of Rajasthan’s encounter against Hyderabad, Warne once again asserted that his team were “no whipping boys of the competition” and underlined the great spirit that suffuses his squad.
He was also reluctant to overplay his role as a coach, saying that he was only fulfilling his role as captain on the basis of his strengths and experiences as a player, and left the coaching obligations to his two assistants, Jeremy Snape and Darren ‘Chuck’ Berry.
Loving every minute of his dalliances with the media, Warne, when asked how he was still able to weave magic, said that his 20 years of experience as a first-class player stood him in good stead.
“I don’t have a computer in my head. I just use my brain and eyes, nothing more,” he remarked.
He felt that despite coming up with an excellent performance in Jaipur after an anemic one in Delhi, his team will have to watch out for the backlash by Hyderabad.