Vol. 5 Num 816 Tue. September 12, 2006  

Shane Warne beyond the cricketer

He is Australia's most controversial sportsman but he's also a marketer's dream; he appears to be doing nothing wrong both on and off the field. In November 2005, the living legend Shane Warne was signed as the name behind the company, 'Messages on Hold'. Who better than Shane Warne with his modern day reputation as a sex-talking nymphomaniac to be the face of Messages on Hold?

In one example recently, which Warne himself outlined to the media, he thought his message had read, "I am not interested. I am a happily married man" whereas he says predictive text had changed the message to "I am naked in my room. Please come and smear linseed oil over my body".

When quizzed by journalists over the vast differences between the messages, Warne said he didn't realize the messages were different and had sent the message without first checking the screen.

"I have been very stupid," said Shane Warne. "I should have checked the phone first to see if it contained predictive text."

Having been deemed too fat to play AFL Footy (an Australian form of Rugby) for his beloved St. Kilda Club after a season at the youth level, he chose the noble game of cricket to show off his wares.

From the wrong side of the tracks in cricket aristocracy terms, he is a beer-swilling, pie-eating enigma that has had the sporting and publicity world at his feet.

The current Test world-record wicket-taker is the man responsible for single-handedly resurrecting the dying art of leg-spin bowling.

Almost 98 per cent of the cricketers to have entered the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Academy, formerly of Adelaide, has donned the national colour in both form of the game. Yet, Shane Warne is still the only player having left the Academy abruptly, triggered this greatness into reality and for that we are all eternally grateful.

His legendary status propels him to new levels in sports and sports marketing. With Warne reeling under a spate of celebrated yet spurious sex scandals, the Australian spinner was further implicated with the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) blaming Warne for an impending interest rate rise. While Warne's indiscretions have become a national soap opera, it is for the first time that his philandering has affected the national political scene and specifically the Australian economy.

RBA released a document to the press recently indicating that an interest rate rise was imminent in the third quarter of this calendar year. In the true RBA fashion, no detailed breakdown of the reasons for the rate rise was given, simply citing global economic downturn, high unemployment and Shane Warne!

Cricket Australia at the time and Warne's team of lawyers was quick to respond to the allegation. Greg Chapell, former Australian cricket captain and current Indian coach and legend stating "Warne has been implicated in this scandal with no basis of proof and its quite obvious that the RBA are using Warne as a scapegoat at the moment as any allegation made against him would generally be accepted by the public as and I'm being fair to Shane here, the man has the social graces of a haemorrhoid."

While the RBA have yet to expand on its allegation, perhaps believing the Australian public will accept it piecemeal the trend has been set, with several other shocking, seemingly faceless but scarily enough believable stories about Shane Warne becoming apparent.

The most damaging of which has arisen in the USA, where shamed company directors of ENRON have blamed Warne for its bankruptcy and even more damaging, Israeli Prime minister is indicting Warne for several suicide bombing in Hebron and the West bank earlier this year. Bill Clinton is urging the Americans to follow the Australians and to forget and forgive him for his Monica scandal.

Of course, much of this would be brushed off if he was 22, even 26, just another beach bum with ungodly skills, and we would have put it down to youthful indiscretion.

Boys will be boys! But eventually men must be men and Warne, close to running 38, has yet to figure that out. Wife Simone has also lapped up the publicity and recently found herself alongside some Australia's finest showbiz and sporting celebrities.

But Warne of all players should by now know the script that its written for the famous, if not by someone telling himself, then by simple trial and error. He has seen the media response and public reaction, to his argument with a 15-year-old who photographed him smoking, to his taking money from a bookie, to his swallowing of a diuretic, and the ignorance defence just does not work anymore. A massive sponsorship with "Quit Smoking" did not necessarily guarantee him success in the endeavours to quit. Do as I say not as I do. With recent public awareness of drugs in sports was the diuretic a masking agent for a banned substance or was a mistake. In 2003 Shane Warne claims the tablet was taken to reduce his fluid levels and ultimately his appearance on his mother's suggestion. Hansie Cronje obviously wasn't as thick skinned as Shane Warne particularly after all were implicated in assisting bookmakers in pitch and weather reports.

Warne and his agent (his brother) obviously apply the theory that any press is good press! Despite all of the negatives it has detracted from massive public support he receives, Australians can relate with Shane Warne.

Warne has often been portrayed as lovable rogue, the blonde surfer turned colourful cricketer, and there is charm to this flawed, anti-establishment figure, but now it is running thin.

There is much to Warne, in his strength of character to keep fighting on after his shoulder operations, his admirable work with children and charities, his disciplined performances (except bowling his most expensive Test overs to get a wicket against Bangladesh) on the field. But goodness has been overshadowed by recklessness.

Nurse-gate and his off-field antics has engrossed a tabloid mad Great Britain then and to this day although Warne claims the Australian press is much more judgmental and moralistic the English press.

The failed channel Nine World Cup Footy show saw Shane Warne working in the UK as special guest in Germany. The invitation came despite Shane losing his contract with Nine for his indiscretions.

Everytime he appeared or his name was mentioned precious time was wasted as football (footy) mad Australians in the audience bellowed out his name for extensive periods.

Australians are a unique breed, as we all know! In essence you are Labor or Liberal voter; a Ford or Holden fan or you dislike Shane Warne. Shane Warne is quite a one-person enterprise and an attention-getting sporting star who laughs his way all the way to the bank these days as a highly marketable commodity.

We also need to acknowledge that Warne is also a very generous man who along the way has established The Shane Warne Foundation.

The web pages privacy statement sets out important information about privacy protections the Foundation extends to personal information. The statement relates to personal information that you provide to the company. It is sad and unfortunate that the same privacy has not been afforded to one of the Australia's greatest!