IF ANY good reason was needed as to why Shane Warne was not considered for the Australian captaincy, he has provided one now. The Australian leg-spinner, along with his teammate Glenn McGrath, seems intent on proving to the world that the label "ugly Australian" is indeed the correct moniker for the team.
Warne's unseemly outburst has elicited the typical ICC response -- one step forward and two steps back. Impose a fine and a suspension and hold it in abeyance -- this has been a classic ICC reaction and if organisations were to compete an award for pussyfooting, then cricket's governing body would win hands down.
It all goes to show that three-year-old taunts can still rankle. Arjuna Ranatunge made his comments about Warne during the last World Cup. There was some bitterness left over from the 1995 tour, when Muthiah Muralitharan was called for alleged throwing by Darrell Hair, and there was added frustration at the fact that both the Australians and the West Indies refused to play their World Cup ties in Sri Lanka.
Ranatunge, who had probably planned to teach the Aussies a thing or two in the middle, minced no words when he described Warne as a highly over-rated bowler. And his words have been echoed by some others over the years; these observers have voiced the feeling that the Australian media hype about Warne has served to create an image of him that has helped psyche batsmen no end.
And if anyone was in doubt over Ranatunge's judgement, he proceeded to show the world what he thought of Warne but smashing him around in the final. I still the expresssion on the Sri Lankan captain's face as he hit Warne over his own head to the boundary. If any picture told a thousand words, then that was it.
This time Warne clearly figures that Lanka have insufficient ammunition to repeat their 1996 feat. And thus, the chance of any clash with Australia, espcially in the later stages of the tournament, seems remote. So he vented his feelings, rather childishly, and thought he could get away with it.
The Australian board must now be extremely happy that it did not opt for Warne instead of Steve Waugh to lead the team after Mark Taylor gave up the captaincy. Any more such incidents and it may be time for something more severe than a reprimand; it would be good if Warne were to bear in mind the fact that Ian Healy lost out in the captaincy race because of similar churlish behaviour.