Shane Warne was a surprise visitor at the South Africa nets session on Wednesday morning. Dressed in black and white and wearing red sports shoes, the former Aussie leggie quietly came up to the media lines carrying his phone and a pack of cigarettes, asking whether the South Africans had finished their nets session. The Proteas were busy playing football inside the main ground at the Sher-e Bangla National stadium. He waited for a while and went away.
The 44-year-old re-emerged as South Africa began their nets. He went straight to his friend Allan Donald, the bowling coach, and had a long chat with him, with chairman of selectors Andrew Hudson listening intently. South Africa leg-spinner Imran Tahir, the highest wicket taker in the Super 10s with 11 from four matches, was next seen talking to the Aussie legend before he began bowling at the nets. Half-an-hour later, it was the man himself who picked up a ball. Slightly trimmer now than in his playing days, the tweaker weaved his magic at young left-hander Quinton de Kock at the far net.
On his own
Warne, now a commentator with the official broadcasters, spent almost an hour at the training session. He walked out with the media in tow but came back again as he could not find his car. “The car has left,” he said, the impatience becoming evident as the media presence increased. Finally, putting it across that he will not say a word about whether his presence at the South Africa nets had anything to do with their semi-final match against India on Friday, he lit up as he saw his car entering the stadium gates.
The official statement from the South Africa media manager, Lerato Malekutu, was that Warne was not invited by Cricket South Africa to be part of their nets session. When asked, Hashim Amla too said pretty much the same thing. “Well, a lot of us guys were surprised to see him at the nets today. Maybe he was getting bored sitting at the hotel and came over to have a bowl,” the South Africa batsman said. But knowing Warne, who had severely criticised John Buchanan’s heavy training methods in the past, it was hard to imagine that the leg-spinner would get up early in the morning, beat the sweltering conditions and end up bowling at the South Africa nets just for fun.