'Warne scandals cost him Aussie captaincy'

Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2007, 10:15 [IST]
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Sydney: Cricket great Shane Warne's "catalogue of reckless conduct" cost him the Australian Test captaincy, an official history of the national cricket board has revealed.

Warne's failure to become Test captain is a glaring deficiency in an otherwise glittering career that included claiming a world record 708 Test wickets, reviving the art of leg-spin bowling and totally dominating opponents.

The book Inside Story, whose authors Gideon Haigh and David Frith were given unrestricted access to Cricket Australia's archives, confirms that Warne never became captain due to a succession of off-field scandals.

The warts-and-all history cites the minutes of a board meeting in August 2000, which list the reasons for Warne's sacking as Test vice-captain in favour of Adam Gilchrist.

At the time, the media had just revealed Warne bombarded a British nurse with lewd text messages, prompting Warne to comment that he was "disappointed" -- not with his behaviour but with the fact that it had become public.

Warne had also been fined for accepting money from an Indian bookmaker, clashed with two New Zealand youths who snapped him breaching a personal sponsorship deal by smoking and allegedly derided Test colleague Scott Muller.

The book says the Australian Cricket Board, as it was then known, always had doubts about Warne's propensity to attract controversy and his "airy" dismissal of the nurse incident seemed to confirm them.

"Taught a lesson," began the board's list of reasons for sacking Warne.

"Leadership brings other responsibilities," it continued. "Given opportunities and shown he can't (behave); not this one issue; history of incidents; catalogue of reckless conduct; responsibility to maintain public confidence."

The board gave Warne some reason for hope, concluding its list with the comment, "door not closed."

Then in January 2001, a stump camera caught Warne swearing at Zimbabwe's Stuart Carlisle during a one-day match in Sydney, but the leg-spinner refused to take any responsibility for his actions.

"As usual Shane has difficulty accepting that it was his fault (he believes) the stump microphones should not have been turned on," the then chief executive Malcolm Speed reported to the board after speaking to Warne.

The scandals continued, including Warne's 12-month drugs ban in 2003 for taking a banned diuretic pill, and the book says that the board unanimously backed Ricky Ponting when the time came to replace Steve Waugh as Test captain.

Damien Mullins, a board member when Warne was sacked as vice-captain, told the authors that the spinner could not be trusted to meet the responsibilities of being Test captain.

"To put in in simple terms, I knew that if he was put in a position of power, sooner or later he would let you down," he said.

Mullin's board colleague Bob Merriman, a Warne supporter, admitted the bowler had been his own worst enemy.

"We gave him another go, I thought he deserved it," Merriman said. "Then, of course he went and got into more trouble, just to prove that he's nothing if not consistent."

Current Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the betting scandal involving Warne and batsman Mark Waugh, in which the players were paid for information on the weather and pitch condition, was a major catalyst for change.

The organisation faced heavy criticism for covering up the fines for three years but Sutherland said it was questionable whether Cricket Australia would be as open about its "brand responsibilities" without the incident.

"We'd probably still be hiding stuff," he told the authors.


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