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~~Cricket, a hobby which became a passion~~

Published: Monday, September 4, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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London: A hobby which became a passion, that's how Shane Warne describes his long and successful spin bowling career with the Australian team but the champion leggie says he might never have discovered his true talent had it not been for the rejection he faced from the Australian Rules Football.

In his book 'Shane Warne: My Illustrated Career', excerpts of which were published in today's 'Times', Warne says he was heartbroken when he was rejected for the Australian Rules Football.

''It was rejection that forced me to follow a totally different set of Aussie rules,'' Warne said.

''I have come to believe that everybody is good at something. The problem for a lot of people is finding it. You might have a potentially great writer who never picks up a pen except to scrawl out a shopping list, or an inspirational teacher who spends their working life pushing papers in an office,'' he goes on to add while elaborating on his initiation to cricket after being shown the door from Football.

Warne said he was lucky that he found his calling in cricket very early in life and felt that he was born with the ability to spin the ball.

''I was among the lucky ones. Where my ability to spin a cricket ball came from, I don't know. I can only think that I was born with it. I have a skill as a cricketer and fortunately cricket found me,'' he wrote.

Cricket was never seen as a career option by Warne and was a mere hobby until he was rejected for footsy due to his short height and slow running.

''True, I played for my school teams and the local club, but as a teenager, cricket was never more than a hobby. Aussie Rules was my first love, tennis probably just second,'' he said.

''Everything changed in 1989, when my beloved St Kilda decided I was not going to make the grade as an Aussie Rules player. I was too slow and not tall enough. The news struck me like a thunderbolt.

With nothing to lose, I decided to go to England to play club cricket in Bristol. From then on cricket took over,'' he added.

The flamboyant leg-spinner says he was happy to have moved to cricket as it gave him a successful career and a chance to play with a winning team.

''When I look back over 15 years as a member of the Australian cricket team and having been very lucky to have played in an era that has been very successful, I think of the way it all began and how easily I could still be drifting around from job to job, feeling unfulfilled, living off my wit's end for the day,'' he said, recalling his long career.

Despite being Test cricket's leading wicket-taker, Warne said his happiest memory so far is his debut.

''A lot has happened since (the debut), but my proudest moment is still that day when I looked up at the electronic scoreboard and read the words: 'Congratulations Shane Warne. You are the 350th Australian Test player','' he said.

''The scale of what I had achieved really sunk in. Test cricket had been played for more than 110 years and only 350 players had represented our great country. It felt as though I had joined a privileged group. Even then it took a while to feel at ease in those surroundings. But cricket quickly became a passion,'' he added.

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