Shane Warne is a captain, inspiration and role model for Rajasthan Royals team-mates © Getty Images
Shane Warne is a captain, inspiration and role model for Rajasthan Royals team-mates © Getty Images

 

By Vinay Anand

 

The inaugural version of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was a classic case of the David beating the Goliath in the final. The Shane Warne-led Rajasthan Royals were the David. His inspired bit of captaincy and guile as a leggie saw his team emerge supreme against all odds.

 

Warne paved the way for things to come with notable performances. And it was under his guidance that the “Baroda Marauder” Yusuf Pathan became a household name and was drafted into the national side following his IPL performances.  Ravindra Jadeja, too, rose to fame while Shane Watson used the IPL as a forum to resurrect his career.

 

The catalyst in all cases was Warne, who mesmerized both his opponents and fans across the world. He enjoys the IPL, and my hunch is that this is one of the main reasons why he is still playing in the tournament, when he can enjoy earning bucks playing poker in Vegas! The T20 format of the IPL is a good fit for the 41-year old. He does not have to punish his body for long hours; four overs is the max he has to bowl in a game in a championship that goes on for less than two months to rake in the moolah. Warne thus thrives in a format he could not get to play at his pomp.

 

Warne’s successful first season was followed by a dose of reality in the second edition in which the Royals ended up sixth. At the end of every IPL season people have felt that Warne may not return the following year to play the IPL, but he has every single time so far, even as some of his vintage like Glenn McGrath have bid adieu.

 

Its 2011, Warne is still playing the IPL in the hope of emulating the glory of 2008. In his proactive and inspirational leadership and his wizardry as leg-spinner, Rajasthan Royals have a weapon that is the envy of the other nine teams in the fray.

 

His bowling seems smooth as ever. Rusty is one word that won’t go down with the master; sheer brilliance it is. The same stock delivery, the same guile, the same drift…

 

The one big factor that has allowed him to carry on in this admirable fashion is his fitness. Warne was nicknamed “Hollywood” long before Liz Hurley came into his life. Now that he has an international eye candy off the field, he desires to look better than ever. The fitness regimen has definitely benefitted cricket and Rajasthan Royals!

 

Warne is as good as wine; with age, its effectiveness only increases. And Liz Hurley will be glad to hear that, too. Indeed, darker the berry, sweeter the juice!

 

(Vinay Anand, 17, has an uncanny eye for detail. He revers cricket – looking beyond the glamour into the heart of the game where true passion, perseverance and grit meet. To him, there is no greater joy than coming closer to the sport while exploring its intricacies through his writing and treading ahead to establish himself as a writer and presenter)