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An innocent babe in the woods

POOR Shane Warne! The man is to be pitied, not criticised, taken seriously, not considered a buffoon. All you have to do is read his autobiography (strange as it may sound, the book has probably been written by a ghost) and then you will begin to understand why I have made what would be, to some, fairly strange statements. Indeed, when I read the extracts, I could not help a tear or two gushing forth from the old lachrymal glands. How, I asked myself, could I have misjudged this noble fellow?

What do you know, Warne has "never knowingly" received money from a bookmaker! The man himself has said this. No, he merely assumed that the Indian bookmaker "John", who was introduced to him by Mark Waugh (whom Warne considers one of his "best mates - any friend of Mark's is a friend of mine") as a man who "bets on the cricket." No, even then Warne thought John was just another punter, one of those who wagers a bit here and there. Can you beat such naivety and innocence?

It goes much further than that. Even when John gave him an envelope full of money, he thought John was above board, just one of those subcontinental types who get bowled over by Australians! Of John during that meeting, Warne has this to say: "...he continued to flatter me... in the manner that most cricketers become used to on the subcontinent." Now Warne finally took the money but takes pains to point out that he tried his level best to refuse; in other words, you can be a little bit pregnant. And in 1994, Shane Keith Warne wants the whole world to believe that he had no inkling that "John" was anything more than a regular punter who kept winning big! Try selling that tale to my six-year-old, he will punch you in the face!

Warne argues further than even though "technically" he did give information to John for money, he only met the man twice (for no longer than 30 and 20 minutes) and that was seven years ago! And he expresses a wish that John would come forward to corroborate his (Warne's) story! How silly can one get? I am strongly reminded of the character William created by Richmal Crompton - he would often offer excuses like this: "The scones weren't there, I didn't look at them, I didn't even eat them and anyway they were lousy scones." It also reminds me of a Hadley Chase novel which I read as a boy - the title was Tell it to the birds!

The same goes for other scrapes in which Warne has been involved. Take the case of the nurse for whom he left obscene messages and with whom he indulged in sex talk. The girl is painted as the one who made all the running, Warne was a victim of circumstances and drink, though he does concede that it was a mistake. And despite having lived in England for some time before that, Warne claims he never thought it would be a big story for the English tabloid press (he had a hint that the story was going to break). I wonder that he doesn't carry a pacifier with him, so naïve and little-boyish does he try to be!

Is Warne dumb? He certainly lacks basic intelligence if he thinks the public (apart from adoring Australians) will swallow this kind of drivel. This is the kind of rubbish excuses that politicians trot out and then indulge in hyperbole to cover their shortcomings. Warne has never accepted responsibility for his public actions, always preferring to fall back on excuses. There is some degree of accountability which comes with being a public figure and it is time that Warne realised it at least now - even though it is too late in the day for him to make amends.