The Warniefesto: a good discussion executed badly

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    There’s one thing I’ll give Shane Warne credit for as he reaches the ‘angry old man’ stage of his retirement from top-level cricket: he does genuinely only want the best for the game in Australia.

    That said, his sudden falling out with Cricket Australia – for what I can only assume has its roots in Warne’s inability to read the Big Bash League playing conditions – is degenerating with all the grace of an Anthony Mundine loss.

    Describing those that run the game in Australia as “muppets”, and declaring there was no place for “rugby people” in cricket was about as subtle as claiming he wasn’t talking about any one particular person was pointless.

    Following on from this, late last week we were treated to the first part of his vision for Australian cricket, and the second part emerged yesterday. There were suggestions early on that this was going to be a five-part thing, but I’m honestly not sure what’s left to say.

    There was no hiding what we were in for, with “Where is Australian cricket at?” about as creative and enigmatic a title as “My Autobiography”.

    Who’da thunkit that Warne doesn’t like what he’s watching from the Australian team currently? Join the line, Shane.

    Actually, scratch that. It appears that Warne’s beef is not about the team and the players at all, but rather the structures around them.

    And it’s here the irony in Warne’s view begins. A man who in his day bemoaned formal structure, and claimed that players made coaches, is now suggesting the coaches and selectors are the problem.

    Why couldn’t it be that the team Warne played in was more than just a touch better than is the case currently?

    Anyway, the reporting of Warne’s plan/opus was interesting for its damning nature. The use of the word ‘manifesto’ was curious, too, as it brings with it images of an evil genius at work.

    However, as I mentioned at the top, Warne certainly isn’t being ‘evil’ opining on Australian cricket, and, well, no-one’s ever accused him of being a genius either.

    Chloe Saltau’s headline in the Fairfax Press was the equally accurate and stinging “Plenty of jobs for the boys in Warne’s manifesto”, while for News Ltd Malcolm Conn declared it “a wonderful job articulating the bleeding obvious.”

    Gideon Haigh and Wayne Smith in The Australian both took aim at Warne’s claim that “The current set up is not working, as the results are showing!” by pointing out that when the current set-up took over, Australia were ranked fifth for Test cricket, and are now only a point behind second-placed England.

    If not for a broken-down paceman in Adelaide, a different series result against South Africa would have had Australia on the top step of the podium.

    The biggest flaw in Warne’s thinking, as far as I can see, is that barely 18 months after the Argus Report also surmised that “The current set up is not working, as the results are showing!” his solution is to put the broom through the place again and throw up some new names.

    Except that some names aren’t necessarily that new. And those that are new aren’t or wouldn’t be interested.

    He’d hardly be the first “emotional, passionate Australian cricket supporter” to call for James Sutherland’s head, but how much thought went into Mark Taylor being CEO material?

    Let Warne’s own words answer that question directly:

    “The reason why I would choose Mark is that he has an understanding from both sides and is a wonderful communicator as well as being very approachable and respected.”

    And that’s all fine and good, but I think there’s a touch more to the job than being respected and approachable. I mean, aside from his record as an air-conditioning salesman, and that his persistent persuasiveness means I’m now really looking forward to The Block – All-stars this year, what exactly are Taylor’s credentials?

    Then there’s the small detail that he’d already knocked back the chance to be the Chairman of the new football commission-style Cricket Australia board last year.

    Frankly, I’m not sure ‘Tubby’ could afford the pay cut.

    In nominating Rod Marsh as his new Chairman of Selectors, does Warne really believe that Marsh has been the sole dissenting voice in the selection room this summer?

    If John Inverarity, Andy Bichel, and Mickey Arthur are losing their positions as selector, then on what justification does Marsh not just keep his, but get promoted?

    That Warne has suggested former teammates, his long-term confidante, and “the best opposition captain we played against” into key coaching positions should surprise no one.

    Warne’s say-so has been getting mates picked and employed now for years. His sense of nepotism is so obvious now that he doesn’t even bother hiding it.

    But either way, if Mike Hussey announced his retirement from playing because he dreaded the thought of being away from his young family for months on end, he’s hardly going to sign up as a batting coach and do all that again, is he?

    As for the teams he named in Part two, well, there really weren’t any earth-shattering revelations, save for the inclusion of James Faulkner and Nathan Coulter-Nile in all three forms of the game, and giving the Twenty20 captaincy to Matthew Wade.

    Oh, and he named Nathan Hauritz as the sole specialist ODI spinner.

    But again, Warne circumnavigates himself with his own logic. He maintained his stance of picking the best 11 for all forms of the game, but then named an 18-man Test squad!

    In fact, in saying at the top of Part two, “It’s simple, select your best 11 for each form of the game, not the same 11 but your best available team at all times,” Warne is essentially conceding that there will be some form of rotation within the squads, even if it’s forced by injury or performance.

    It’s already been reported that only three players have been rested or rotated from a Test side when otherwise fit to play in the last 12 months, so what Warne’s advocating isn’t that far removed from what’s happening anyway.

    It would’ve been interesting to have been a fly on the wall when Warne met with James Sutherland over the weekend, because I suspect by the end of the meeting, they might have concluded that Warne’s thinking isn’t that far off Cricket Australia’s.

    The issue then becomes one of communication, in which case I don’t think there would be many arguments from anyone that the messages coming out of CA this summer, particularly around selections, have been confusing.

    I don’t think there’s any question the selectors have often been guilty of saying something when they should’ve said nothing, with the admission that Phillip Hughes was “shielded” from the South African bowling attack being the classic example.

    Even if that was true, there’s just no benefit to anyone for that to be made public.

    Let me reiterate that I am sure Warne has purely good intentions in publishing his thoughts.

    He even says himself that he hopes his paper “opens the floodgates for discussion and a positive outcome”. There’s no doubt it has, judging by the mainstream and social media commentary.

    And so perhaps the solution is not Warne’s paper itself, but the discussion that the ‘Warniefesto’ has generated. Cricket Australia wouldn’t be so stupid to implement his ideas in full, but they would be plain dumb to ignore the underlying message completely.

    Forget the broom; forget the new names. For now.

    But don’t ever forget that Cricket Australia’s purpose is to foster the game in this country at all levels.

    That obviously means not only looking after the grass roots and all its structures, but also to ensure the highest possible performance from the national teams.

    I’m sure CA will argue that that’s exactly what they’re trying to do. And that’s fine. But they shouldn’t ever rest comfortably that they’re on top of all cricket issues at any given time. This summer has shown that they’re clearly not.

    This has been and is a discussion worth having. And if any the areas targeted in his two parts show some signs of improvement in the next year or so, then Warne might be well entitled to rock back in his over-sized chair and stroke his feline.

    He’s certainly not evil, but there perhaps is some hidden genius lurking in his methods.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (79)

    • February 5th 2013 @ 2:54am
      Lancey5times said | February 5th 2013 @ 2:54am | ! Report

      Firstly thank you for not adding to the already written 4000 articles on ‘What is our best 11’ and ‘What does Usman have to do to get a run?’

      I found Warne’s manifesto both contradictory (as you have mentioned) and of more concern, delivered in very much the wrong forum. Considering his standing in the game and his level of access, why couldn’t he confidentially, provide his thoughts to CA? He did after all catch up with his mate Jimmy Sutherland over the weekend for a few Danny Bonabrewski’s and a chat. If he does care, as you have stated Brett, shouldn’t he approach this overwhelming feeling he has to help in a more professional manner? This is a bit like attacking your place of employ on Facebook. While he may not still be representing his country he is still a part of cricket in Australia and he needs to be more aware of the damage he can do with his profile.

      With everyday, I find it harder to continue to believe he does still care. Which is very hard as he has been a very big part of my growing up. But with the ‘Muppet call’, his disappearing act in the BB, his on field behaviour (particularly the captaincy debacle), and all his jobs for the boys in his plans for the game, it’s all starting to come across as a little selfish.

      I do appreciate your efforts though at taking the middle ground here. I’m estimating around 135 relies on this one 🙂

      • Columnist

        February 5th 2013 @ 9:32am
        Brett McKay said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        Lancey, you would’ve loved the column I was going to write today then – a plea to the Khawaja lobbyists to please give it a rest. But such has been the volume of articles on that subject (and unrelated articles that have been hijacked) that I couldn’t even bare to talk about not talking about it…

        Your point about him becoming involved himself is perhaps the most common response, that if he does honestly think the set-up is wrong, then why not get involved himself? And it’s a fair question, which I understand was one of many topics Warne and James Sutherland discussed over the weekend..

        • Roar Guru

          February 5th 2013 @ 10:30am
          sheek said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:30am | ! Report


          If I may be ahem, a little off-topic here, Usman is indeed scoring A run here & there.

          Unfortunately, he’s just not scoring LOTS of runs here & there…..! 😉

          • Columnist

            February 5th 2013 @ 12:05pm
            Brett McKay said | February 5th 2013 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

            Sure Sheek, but with the amount public comment he’s generating, he should’ve scored a lot more. I cannot recall a more concerted and engulfing wave of support to get a player selected. And yes, this is off-topic!

            • Roar Guru

              February 5th 2013 @ 12:07pm
              sheek said | February 5th 2013 @ 12:07pm | ! Report


              Don’t get me wrong – I’m on the UK bandwagon. I just wish he would put an end to the speculation with an avalanche of runs!

              • Columnist

                February 5th 2013 @ 1:40pm
                Brett McKay said | February 5th 2013 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

                So do I Sheek, believe me..

              • February 5th 2013 @ 3:15pm
                Lancey5times said | February 5th 2013 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

                So do I Sheek. It is also very obvious to me that he is the only person who can get himself into the side so I am going to stop going on about it. The selectors obviously a) don’t read anything on this site and/or b) are certainly not about to bow to public opinion. The squad to India is evidence of this

    • February 5th 2013 @ 3:37am
      AndyMack said | February 5th 2013 @ 3:37am | ! Report

      Hey Brett,

      I dont have much to add to this, except to give praise for the comment “aside from his record as an air-conditioning salesman, and that his persistent persuasiveness means I’m now really looking forward to The Block”.

      Champagne comedy…..

      • Columnist

        February 5th 2013 @ 9:32am
        Brett McKay said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        Thank you sir!!

      • February 5th 2013 @ 10:29am
        rl said | February 5th 2013 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        He STILL can’t say “Fujitsu” properly (in fact, I can barely understand anything he says)

    • February 5th 2013 @ 7:25am
      Parisien said | February 5th 2013 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      “The Warniefesto: a good discussion executed badly”. A good title, followed up with the reasons and analysis. Most will agree the discussion is worth having.

      “he does genuinely only want the best for the game in Australia.” How do you know this and how can you be sure?

      I tend to suspect along with other commentators that its all about Warne.

      • Columnist

        February 5th 2013 @ 9:39am
        Brett McKay said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        Parisien, I believe he genuinely wants what’s best for Australian cricket simply because he’s gone to the effort he did. I have no doubt this is as much about maintaining his self-promotion as it about cricket in general, but if he didn’t really care he would’ve just kept his rants to blocks of 140 characters.

        Instead, he published a two-part paper, the first more than 1170 words, the second almost 600 (which included his three squads).

        His papers have some roundabout logic and even seem contradictory at times, but there’s been a good deal of effort put into them. And he discussed these matters with the CEO over the weekend, where if he really didn’t care he wouldn’t have worried about that. That all seems pretty genuine to me..

        • February 5th 2013 @ 1:23pm
          Christo the Daddyo said | February 5th 2013 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

          Effort?!? He’s whipped up a couple of thought pieces that are illogical (internally I mean). Where’s the effort? Almost everything published on The Roar has had more thought put into it than Warne’s drivel.

          And discussing things with Sutherland? Come on Brett! He had a game of golf!!

          If Warne was genuine about wanting to contribute to the development of Australian cricket, he’d get some coaching credentials and join the staff at the CoE to develop spin bowling in this country.

          But he’s not going to do that, is he…

          • Columnist

            February 5th 2013 @ 1:36pm
            Brett McKay said | February 5th 2013 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

            All of that might be true, Christo, but the fact they met and discussed the issues is the most important point in all this, surely…

            • February 5th 2013 @ 1:54pm
              Christo the Daddyo said | February 5th 2013 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

              Is it? Why? Warne hasn’t really come up with anything new, or a different approach that nobody has even considered. So why does he get to have a round of golf with the CA CEO?

              For me the thing is that Warne was a brilliant spin bowler, but hasn’t shown that he has anything else of substance to offer CA. I even wonder whether he would make a good coach actually. Even if he was prepared to ditch the celebrity poker tournaments and being Hurley’s handbag, does he have any coaching ability? The list is long of star players of any number of codes who thought they could coach and couldn’t. Fittler in the NRL comes to mind. Maybe what Warne had as a leggie was un-coachable…

              • Columnist

                February 5th 2013 @ 1:59pm
                Brett McKay said | February 5th 2013 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

                I’ve just written 1400 words on why the discussion is more important than the words Christo, I don’t really need (or want) to explain it again….

              • Roar Guru

                February 5th 2013 @ 4:16pm
                Rabbitz said | February 5th 2013 @ 4:16pm | ! Report


                Point to McKay.

        • February 6th 2013 @ 4:05am
          Parisien said | February 6th 2013 @ 4:05am | ! Report

          hi Brett
          thanks for taking the time to answer. I’m still not convinced that he genuinely wants whats best for Australian cricket. I think he is being mischievous and troublesome because of the recent spat with Cricket Australia. His past includes a ban from cricket for testing positive for a prohibited substance, charges of bringing the game into disrepute by accepting money from bookmakers, sexual indiscretions, and now the recent fine. None of this helped Australian cricket and just show an immature selfish man with poor self-control. As others have said, the best way for him to genuinely help Australian cricket would be to help spin bowlers, batsmen, keepers, and captains and keep his mouth shut. That would impress me a lot more than his poorly thought-out and written “manifesto”. Sorry to sound so harsh on him, but as you can gather, I’m less than impressed by him.

    • February 5th 2013 @ 7:59am
      Allanthus said | February 5th 2013 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      Hi Brett

      I agree with your view that Warne does genuinely want the best for Australian cricket.

      But he has two issues working against him
      1. he lacks the nous and respect for authority which might see him raise matters in a more effective way
      2. he is a slave to social media, where he feels obliged to run a constant campaign via twitter to keep providing new material for his followers- to feed the beast as it were

      I could be ungracious and add a third, which is that he is a d**khead, but will leave space for others to do that…

      • Columnist

        February 5th 2013 @ 9:40am
        Brett McKay said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:40am | ! Report

        Can’t disagree with any of that Allanthus..

      • February 5th 2013 @ 9:58am
        Jutsie said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        that sounds a bit like a description of quade cooper except cooper has the chance of maturing with age.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 1:37pm
        jameswm said | February 5th 2013 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

        The third, if you want one, is that he favours his mates. He’s not impartial.

    • February 5th 2013 @ 8:36am
      sledgeross said | February 5th 2013 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      Its pretty easy. Warnie is right into his fantasy sports!
      Hes always looking after his pals though. I mean, he got Michael Beer a baggy green for a WACA test, citing his knowledge of home conditions when he had only played a handful of games there.

    • February 5th 2013 @ 9:00am
      MadMonk said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:00am | ! Report

      I’m tipping Warnie to become the Neil Harvey of the 21st century.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 9:06am
        Happy Hooker said | February 5th 2013 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        Haha very good Tony!

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