GOT HIM, YES!

How Shane Warne will put his expert spin on Fox Cricket this sum­mer

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - Front Page -

READ the racier chap­ters of Shane Warne’s can­did new mem­oir No Spin and it’s easy to see the Aus­tralian crick­et­ing leg­end as just an­other Peter Pan play­boy.

Hear him rev the en­gine of his sleek, black, fac­tory-fresh Mercedes GLE 63 coupe, or “The Beast” as he calls it, and this is one happy man- child, en­joy­ing his lat­est toy.

But get the leg spin­ner talk­ing about the op­por­tu­nity to men­tor a new gen­er­a­tion of com­men­ta­tors signed to the 24hour sports chan­nel Fox Cricket and there’s a ma­tu­rity and wis­dom that sur­prises.

It prob­a­bly shouldn’t given his pro­fes­sional score­card which in­cludes 23 years as an elite player for Aus­tralia; as well as a me­dia ca­reer that spans a quar­ter cen­tury – be­gin­ning back in 1993 on Nine and con­tin­ues to­day with roles in the UK (on Sky), In­dia (for Star TV) and South Africa.

The fight for his sig­na­ture here – be­tween Fox Sports, Seven and other non-rights net­works – re­flects the re­spect he’s earned as a tal­ented com­men­ta­tor and en­gag­ing, if po­lar­is­ing, TV per­son­al­ity.

But it was the op­por­tu­nity of a “clean slate” at Fox Cricket, which has en­er­gised the 49-year- old.

“In 1978, when World Series Cricket started [on Nine], they rev­o­lu­tionised sports broad­cast­ing. Ex­tra cam­eras, stump mics, coloured cloth­ing, un­der lights. Bill Lawrie would shout, ‘ Got him, yes!’ The ex­cite­ment they brought to it,” he tells TV Guide. “But I think now, the op­por­tu­nity at Fox Sports, it’s a clean slate, a blank can­vas, so it can be any­thing we want it to be.”

The commentary team re­flects the changed land­scape of the sport: a mix of fa­mil­iar faces and for­mer play­ers from both the men’s and women’s game – in­clud­ing Adam Gilchrist, Ell­yse Perry and for­mer Eng­land cap­tain Michael Vaughan and Isa Guha.

With rights to all forms of the game, in­clud­ing tests, Big Bash League and one- day in­ter­na­tion­als, Warne says the skills needed across the 24-hour chan­nel will be served up by “a great group of peo­ple … the pub­lic will love.”

“I’m ex­cited by the team we’ve pulled to­gether but I’m also re­ally in­ter­ested and want to help all the peo­ple who haven’t re­ally done too much Test match commentary, be­cause say­ing noth­ing is some­times re­ally good,” he says.

Such re­straint will be mu­sic to the ears of view­ers who com­plain about the con­stant chirp­ing from some com­men­ta­tors – the TV equiv­a­lent of sum­mer­time ci­cadas.

It was ad­vice from the late Kerry Packer that put Warne on the right path when it came to what he should bring to Nine’s cricket cov­er­age.

“He said to me, ‘ Lis­ten son, all of us wish we could be out in the mid­dle, play­ing cricket but we can’t, so tell me what it’s like out there’,” Warne says.

The fa­mously as­tute me­dia mogul told Warne: “Don’t tell me what I can see … I’m not stupid … tell me why it’s hap­pen­ing.”

Fox Sports head of tele­vi­sion Steve Craw­ley be­lieves it’s Warne’s tal­ent for dis­till­ing the game’s com­pli­cated strate­gies and nu­ances of play in sim­ple terms that makes him the best in the busi­ness.

“The thing that I love about Shane’s commentary is he can teach me more about cricket in a half hour’s stint with the mi­cro­phone than any­one else,” Craw­ley says.

“Ev­ery time he’s on, I learn more about the game. You think you know a lot about cricket un­til you hear peo­ple like him put it in the sim­plis­tic form.”

On Warne’s lead­er­ship qual­i­ties, Craw­ley adds: “It’s a shame that he wasn’t the cap­tain of Aus­tralia, be­cause I think he would have been great but, you know, he had other pri­or­i­ties” (a nod to the sex and text scan­dals that lost Warne the vice cap­taincy).

That’s not to say the two haven’t con­spired to keep Warne’s lar­rikin spirit alive – task­ing him with voic­ing a new ver­sion of Dad­dles the duck (the car­toon­ish char­ac­ter which ap­pears on screen and walks a bats­man back to the pavil­ion with­out score).

“I was in Eng­land re­cently and sit­ting out­side the ho­tel, near a river and there were ducks go­ing past, so I called Crawls to say I was try­ing to sound like ducks, but I sounded more like the Pen­guin out of Bat­man,” he laughs.

Jokes aside, Warne’s in­sights will be show­cased in what pre­vi­ously would have been ad breaks on com­mer­cial TV cov­er­age.

“There’s 90 sec­onds to two min­utes where we’ve got the free­dom to do any­thing we want be­tween overs,” Warne says.

“We’ll have spi­der- cam footage. We’re go­ing to have un­be­liev­able ac­cess.”

Us­ing in­ter­ac­tive graph­ics, Warne and oth­ers will “de­brief” the play – from break­ing down a bowler’s tac­tics, to ex­plain­ing tech­niques that seem sim­ple enough, like catch­ing a ball.

“The in­sight we can bring to peo­ple, the ex­pan­sion we can have at the end of overs, or dur­ing play … our ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge, there’s just so much we can do,” he says.

Out­side of match cov­er­age, Warne will fea­ture in new pro­grams such as Come In

Spin­ner – along­side ABC ra­dio favourite Kerry O’Keefe and for­mer Ten host Mark Howard – which Craw­ley says “will give Shane the chance to spread his wings a bit.”

AUS­TRALIA V SOUTH AFRICA ODI

1PM, SUN­DAY, FOX CRICKET [ 501]

Spin king: Shane Warne will play a lead role on Fox­tel’s 24-hour sports chan­nel Fox Cricket.

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