Shane Warne was an illusionist first and a leg spinner second: Greg Chappell pays tribute to the Aussie legend

Former Australia captain and India’s ex-head coach Greg Chappell paid tribute to Shane Warne, saying the Australian legend was first an illusionist and then a weirdo who mesmerized the world with his craft and took it to a whole other level. Warne died on Friday at the age of 52 from complications of a suspected heart attack on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand.

“When I think of Shane Warne, I think of the words of American naturalist, poet and writer Henry David Thoreau: ‘It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see.’ Shane Warne was an illusionist first and a great leg-spin bowler second,” wrote Chappell in his Sydney Morning Herald column.

“I was fortunate to get to know Shane well in his post-cricket days, playing numerous rounds of golf with him at one of his favorite courses, Cathedral Lodge and Golf Club in Thornton, Victoria. You get to know someone pretty well by spending four hours on the golf course with them and then that many more on post-round reviews.”

Chappell said Warne was simply more than a great leg spinner as he inspired a generation of cricketers to take up his craft. “Shane was more than just a leg spinner. He was an entertainer with enormous charisma who was noticed everywhere. Its success drew millions of viewers into the game and brought the art of leg spins to life.

“It also spawned a new generation of leg spinners trying to get to the crease and make it rip! What they didn’t have was Shane’s raw strength and innate cunning, so very few have reached great heights,” he said.

Chappell, a former India coach, thinks Warne’s public perception was “colored” and misunderstood.

“What you got with Shane wasn’t necessarily what you saw. You only got what he let you see. Most people’s impressions of him were colored by what they could glean from the way he was portrayed in the media. That often just touched the surface,” he wrote.

“Shane was the epitome of competition. He loved games and he loved playing against an opponent where he could use his mental acuity and tremendous confidence. I have often witnessed his uncanny ability to make magic happen.

“He was so confident in his superpowers that he was usually stunned when it didn’t work out. It was invariably written off on extreme bad luck. Some of his golf opponents tried to use that against him by telling him how unlucky he was, but it’s hard to fool a prankster,” added Chappell.

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