Warne would have been great captain: Chappell

Published: Tuesday, September 26, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney: Shane Warne could have been one of Australia's great captains if he had been given the chance to lead the Test side, according to former skipper Ian Chappell.

The blonde leg-spinner, Test cricket's leading wicket taker, is still an integral part of the team, but at the age of 37 appears to have missed the chance to captain his country.

''It is one of my greatest disappointments as a cricket person and former Australia captain that Warnie has never had the chance to lead the team,'' Chappell told Reuters.

''The first time I saw him captain was for Victoria in a Super 8 competition a few years ago. He just made it so bloody exciting. Rather than think 'how can I save runs here?', it was put in a catching fielder and give the ball to the best bowler and let's see if we can get another wicket.'' Chappell, 63, said he immediately rang his close friend Richie Benaud, another former Australia captain, to tell him about the potential for another great leg-spinning captain.

''That's how exciting he made it for me. To me that's the sad part, I think the public would have loved him to have captained the side.'' Chappell thinks it does rankle with Warne that he never had the chance to lead his country despite the experience gained from playing 140 tests, though he appreciates it would have been a brave move to appoint the controversial spinner.

''I think it probably does, he's a competitive person,'' Chappell said. ''Having said that I understand that it would have been a gutsy decision by the board to appoint him.

Chappell believes Warne could keep playing test cricket for a few more years, though he has doubts about whether he can retain the necessary motivation. Warne has been critical of Australia coach John Buchanan over matters including last month's boot camp, which he was forced to attend.

''Warne is a very old time common sense cricketer,'' Chappell said. ''He bowls a lot. That's what he was saying about the boot camp: 'I don't need to be pushing cars up hills, I need to bowl.' ''To play at your best you've got to love what you're doing and if a little bit of love for the game is killed off then suddenly it goes.''

Chappell does not believe Warne's relationship with Buchanan, whose brainchild the boot camp was, should be a major issue for captain Ricky Ponting.

''If I'm the captain and I've got a bowler who has 685 test wickets and I've got a coach I know where my loyalty lies because here's a guy who can win me games,'' he said. ''My idea of team solidarity is not when you've got everyone saying the same thing. I learnt a lot about captaincy by having about six larrikins in my team not afraid to speak their minds, coming up to me and saying 'what the hell are you doing?''' Chappell, an uncompromising captain who led his country in 30 tests between 1971 and 1975, rates Mark Taylor as Australia's best recent skipper ahead of Allan Border, Steve Waugh and Ponting.

''Of the last four Australia captains I think Mark Taylor was far and away the best,'' Chappell said. ''Ricky is more Steve Waugh than Mark Taylor.'' Chappell rates Warne along with two great Australian cricketers of the 1950s, all-rounder Keith Miller and batsman Neil Harvey, as players who should have captained their country on a regular basis.

''I'd put him alongside Keith Miller and Neil Harvey as three blokes who probably should have captained Australia and would have been very good ones,'' Chappell said.

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