Warne puts spin on lost generation
Australian cricketer Shane Warne speaks to the media. AAP Image/Julian Smith
It’s the eternal question posed to Shane Warne. Where did all of those kids go who were supposed to be inspired by the leg-spinning wizard?
You know the ones.
Australian backyards were meant to be filled with kids mastering the art of wrist spin.
They’d toss the ball from right hand to left hand a couple of times before walking in, ripping it as hard as possible and then staring at their opponent with a look that said “that one didn’t get you, but the next one will.”
His career was supposed to leave a lasting impression on Australian cricket.
Australia’s spin stocks should be bulging at the seams, but instead we’re left with just a few to choose from and among them a right arm leg-spinner is hard to find.
This week, while pumping up the tyres of the looming Big Bash League and his role with the Melbourne Stars, Warne was asked about that missing generation again.
If answered properly, he said, we’d need 30 minutes to understand, but put simply it boiled down to a lack of support at a crucial stage of development.
“You need encouragement and I think sometimes the captaincy at junior level, that I’ve found with a lot of the kids with my kids getting older and a lot of kids playing junior cricket, that when they do get to 14 or 15 or 16 and they get smacked around the park, they bowl a few double bouncers the encouragement isn’t there,” he said.
“They get taken off and the captain says this is a bit hard lets just go with a medium pacer.”
“So, a lot of people that had a lot of talent around 15 or 16 and want to do it they’re going to lose interest.”
Now, that may seem like over-simplifying what is a complicated problem.
Not every kid who bowled a half tracker that bounced three times before spinning only with the aid of the edge of the synthetic pitch was going to be the next Shane Warne, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard stories of young spinners getting sent for an extended thumb twiddling excursion after a few bad overs.
Leg-spin isn’t easy. In fact, it’s the hardest thing to do in the game.
Unfortunately, patience at all levels is in short supply.
Not many captains will persist with any bowler who is getting belted.
Just how many kids lost interest and as Warne went on to say found going to the beach easier and more enjoyable is impossible to calculate.
Still, the fact is that there’s never really been a stand-out heir to the throne.
It seems too easy, even a little bit absurd, to lay the blame at the feet of a series of mid-teen captains across the country.
Instead, what was formerly head office, must take some of the blame for the shortage.
Whether it be through a lack of talent identification, a lack of coaches skilled in spin at different levels throughout the game or just a general lack of foresight while the good times rolled on, Australia remains without a genuine leg-spinner today.
The debate has now moved on to whether we need one in the future.
The depth in Australia’s pace stocks has never been better and whether Australia’s selectors load-up with gun slingers and include another batsman who can bowl a little bit of spin will be interesting to see.
It might just be easier to blast teams into submission than persist with spin.
Then again, isn’t that what Warne was talking about?
You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.
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