In My Autobiography, Aussie leg-spin maestro Shane Warne, perhaps the outstanding cricketer of his generation–and one of the most consistently newsworthy characters in sport–takes stock of a phenomenally successful career, and gives his account of the scandals and controversies that have sent the media into spasms of delighted indignation.
From his days as a frustrated teenage wannabe Aussie Rules star, who decided he might as well try his hand at cricket, Warne has almost single-handedly taken the gentle, studious art of spin-bowling and turned it into a thrilling gladiatorial spectacle–on the way gathering career stats that rank him in company with the game’s all-time elite.
Warne crashed into the world spotlight in 1993, when his first-ever ball in Ashes cricket made seasoned England star Mike Gatting look like a floundering buffoon:
In the second or so it took to leave my hand, swerve to pitch outside leg stump, fizz past the batsmen’s lunge forward and clip off stump, my life did change … Ian Botham said he hadn’t seen the same look of wide-eyed horror on Gatting’s face since somebody had stolen his lunch a few years before.
And he has hardly looked back since–on the pitch at least. Outside the boundary rope it has been a different, though no less sensational story. The media has revelled in tales of extra-marital phone-sex, match-fixing controversies, and bust-ups with the game’s authorities and fellow professionals–sparking endless nonsensical speculation as to whether this hard-drinking, smoking “yobbo” was too fat, too loud, too arrogant or just plain too much for cricket to take.
This is a candid chronicle of his side of the story, and along the way there are some wonderful revelations about the mysteries of spin-bowling, the professional art of “sledging”, and a fascinating insider account of Australia’s rise to world dominance. A frank observer of others; an insightful assessor of his own achievements and motivations–and rarely descending into bland PR-consciousness–The King Of Spin has once again confounded all expectations and served up a peach. –Alex Hankin