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A disgraceful display


I only just caught it. There I was sitting in my hotel room in Cape Town, flicking through the channels, when I caught a glimpse of the Big Bash action from the MCG.

The first thing that caught my attention was the atmosphere. Forty six thousand people were screaming their lungs out creating a sporting theatre of commendable proportions, and it was just a domestic clash. The Stars and the Renegades were fronting with some recognisable stars on show. Shane Warne was also playing.

A seemingly controlled Warne was on mic, bowling and describing, predicting and prophesying, and generally struggling. He didn't look the Warne of old. He didn't even look like Warne.

It wasn't long however before all hell broke loose and this “gentleman's” game erupted into something quite unfathomable.

In the blink of an eye things changed. Those gently-tossed looping hooks turned into vicious barbs of confrontation. To the shock of a global audience the masked leg spinner suddenly morphed into a demonic-looking character with serious intent. He clearly forgot he was 'live to air' and his profanity-laden spray was broadcast for all to hear. Behind the scenes broadcast sound engineers frantically scrambled to cut the audio.

Warne's tirade was astonishing as he bared flashing white teeth and unleashed on Marlon Samuels like a rabid junkyard dog. A verbal and physical assault of serious magnitude resulted and stunned viewers witnessed an atrocious display.

Shocking words were shouted, threats exchanged, jerseys pulled, fingers pointed, balls intentionally thrown and a bat was ceremoniously tossed. Now the circus really was in town.

The sporting world was exposed to five minutes of extraordinary television. It was exposed to one individual carrying on like a fool and becoming unhinged in a remarkably vivid way. I am all for aggression in cricket but it must never reach levels that do serious harm to the game and bring it into disrepute. Warne did that and more.

It was the only time I have ever watched the game of cricket when an individual should have been immediately evicted. A strong match referee could have acted and done exactly that to diffuse an extremely volatile situation. It is clear that while the players need to control emotions the officials in charge need to step up as well.

The saddest part was that Warne was unrecognisable as the superstar he once was. In more ways than one.


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