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Mist lifts over Warne’s affinity for 23

What’s with Shane Warne and his liking for number 23 is a question that has confounded this hack for quite a while, especially as it is something that the almighty Google search just doesn’t answer, writes Varun Gupta.
Hindustan Times | By Varun Gupta, Jaipur
UPDATED ON MAY 05, 2008 12:35 PM IST

The explanations have ranged from reasonable to simply inane to downright side-splitting. What’s with Shane Warne and his liking for number 23 is a question that has confounded this hack for quite a while, especially as it is something that the almighty Google search just doesn’t answer!

That the number adorned his Australian jersey and continues to occupy its pride of place on the Jaipur one must be common knowledge, as will be the pendant, which he wears around his neck that has 23 inscribed on it.

But why 23? Agreed cricketers are superstitious people and can believe that certain numbers are harbingers of sporting good fortune. But Warne is surely not so impressionable. He is a bit of an iconoclast, a pragmatist who scoffs at age-old traditions and customs.

Some ventured that Warne was a starry-eyed kid besotted with the “jammin and dunkin” figure of the legendary Michael Jordan, who also wore number 23, and decided to follow suit. Others, less imaginative, offered that it was perhaps the obsession with David Beckham, whose Real Madrid jersey too adorned number 23. Beckham, incidentally, said that he swapped his number 7 for 23 in deference and awe of Jordan. But this just doesn’t wash as Warne became a superstar long before Beckham did.

One British journalist who had followed Warne’s career surmised rather cheekily that 23 was perhaps the number of women Warne sleeps with in a week, an observation that was offered to raise a few harmless guffaws, of course.

Generally, 23 is regarded as a mystical number. Twenty-three is the lowest prime that consists of consecutive digits. The ancient Chinese believed numbers conveyed sexuality. Even numbers are feminine, odd numbers are masculine and prime numbers are considered the most masculine, conferring special status on 23 which is made up of two consecutive prime numbers and the only even prime number —- 2.

John Forbes Nash, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, was obsessed with the number. It featured prominently in his battle with mental illness. His breakdown began when he claimed that a photograph of Pope John XXIII on the cover of Life magazine was in fact his, the proof being that 23 was his favourite number. Incidentally, Nash published 23 scientific articles. Also, 23rdians are a group of people who believe in the mystical power of 23 and see it in multiple combinations throughout daily life. Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times.

But to relate all this to Warne’s penchant will be taking things a bit too far, simply because Warne will never give two hoots for such facts, however interesting and grotesque.

So finally, after weeks of fervent attempts, it took Darren ‘Chuck’ Berry to provide the elusive answer. Cornered at the end of a hallway, Berry, Warne’s close friend of many years, revealed that as a kid, Warne’s hero was a legendary Australian rules footballer and Hall-of-famer, Dermot Brereton.

Brereton played his game hard, was a bit of a showman and sportsman extraordinaire. He donned number 23 on his jersey and Warne was completely in awe of him, looking to emulate him at every front.

Brereton was famous for his knack of parking his Ferrari wherever he wanted, particularly right outside nightclubs. The best possible parking space at any venue in Australia is called a “Dermie”. He also had a way with women and was a bit of a loose cannon.

Any similarities between the two are purely intended.

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