Everyone loves Kohli because he always speaks honestly: Warne
The Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 2008 champions Rajasthan Royals are ready with a makeover. The franchise is turning all ‘pink’ this season with a change in the colour of their apparels and will have it as the official colour in line with the city of Jaipur. As RR goes about reinventing itself in its 10th year of IPL (having missed out two years), Shane Warne — their first captain who led RR to victory in the inaugural year of the IPL — is once again the face driving that change. On Sunday, the legendary leg-spinner sat with TOI for an extensive interview.
Ten years with Rajasthan Royals. What does it take to have so much of Shane Warne’s attention?
I think the people. There’s a loyalty factor attached to club sport (cricket) and I like that. I’ve always only played for one team. Australia, Victoria, St Kilda and Rajasthan Royals (in context of IPL). In County cricket, it was Hampshire. I’ve had many roles here (at RR) but what really drove me was the people of Jaipur. There wasn’t much expectation, they just wanted their team to do well. There was a feeling of appreciation and I felt they took me for who I was. They gave me the space. I want to pay back.
You talk about space. When this kind of space is given to Shane Warne, does it tend to bring the best out of him?
Yes, absolutely. Firstly, there’s a huge difference between being liked and being respected. I got both in plenty with RR. Today, franchises have a bowling coach, a batting coach, physios, mentors, team managers — there are so many people around the team now doling out advice. In my case, it was a one-stop shop. That helped.
Cricket Australia’s culture change — has it worked?
I really don’t know if there was a problem with the culture. But what I do know is after Sandpapergate, how many people loved seeing the Australians in trouble and how many people sunk their boot in. How many people kicked them when they were down. There might have been an issue because every team did not like the Australians and that’s OK. You don’t have to be liked but you need to be respected. And there are a few things the Australian team did (to lose that respect). They need to earn it back
Will signing autographs help?
The Australian way of playing cricket is tough, uncompromising but above all, fair. Maybe that’s where the Australians weren’t doing it right, pushing it too far and this time (with the culture change policy), they’ve gone too far the other way. Now I think everything they’re doing is for public image. As soon as the last ball is bowled in a game, they’re all (players) signing autographs .
they speak. Too much rule-setting can result in dumbing down of expression?
We live in a world that’s increasingly becoming politically correct. And what we want to see from sportspersons is them being real. We want to see their emotions, see them expressing themselves. We don’t want to see them conforming.
Is that why Virat Kohli comes as a breath of fresh air?
He’s fantastic. I love watching him bat and I love listening to him. I am a big fan.One of the things he doesn’t do is he doesn’t take things lying down …
You know what he does? He stands up for what he believes in. He speaks how he feels and he’s real. He’s emotional, a bit too emotional sometimes on the field. But that’s the part of the charm.
Is that why Australia loves him?
I think world cricket loves him. Everyone loves Virat Kohli because it’s refreshing to hearing him talk so honestly and openly. He loves confrontation. That’s why he has those 100s in chases. How many? 23? 24? It’s unbelievable. The next best is how much? I can’t remember who’s second. That’s phenomenal. That’s something inbuilt into you. That’s not skill or talent. That is pure competitiveness and desire — to get the job done.
Lot of comparisons these days and they’ve become fashionable. Is Sachin better than Virat, or is Virat better than Sachin?
Very hard to judge eras. Think about the bowlers in the 90s. Different surfaces that seamed. Now they’re a lot flatter. The ball swung more. So many invariables. But to think that someone was better than Brian Lara and Sachin — in those mid-90s — against Wasim, Waqar etc; Curtly, Courtney, etc; McGrath, Donald, Saqlain, Mushy, Vettori, Murali, myself. You can go on. (Pauses) Virat is breaking all the records, which is great but I want to wait. You can set benchmarks, score those many centuries, average that high, score a lot many runs. But what people are going to remember you for is the way you played. Someone should run down the street and ask fans, how many runs did Mark Waugh make? They wouldn’t have a clue but chances are, they’ll say: I loved watching him play.
DRS — you’re clearly not a fan ...
I’m a fan of DRS only if it is used right. And at the moment, I don’t think it is used right. It’s simple: Take away the original umpire’s decision. You can’t have exactly the same ball being given out and not out depending on what the on-field decision was. Identical deliveries: one results in ‘out’ and the other results in ‘not out’. That can’t be the case. It’s either out or not out, but because of what the on-field decision is, there can’t be two alternatives to the same delivery.
Those operating DRS during a match sit in the broadcast room, the TV umpire sits elsewhere and so does the referee
The DRS guys should be on their own, sitting alone, and maybe the fourth umpire should sit with them, to see they’re hitting the right button (laughs). But because of the telecast, you get to see all of that on the live feed. So, it’s pretty hard for anyone here to make a mistake. But yes, those who operate the DRS should be sitting alone so that you’re not influenced by anyone.
What’s that one rule you want changed in cricket?
1) Take away the on-field umpire’s decision on DRS; 2) If you don’t bowl your overs in time, the captain misses two games. You’ve got 90 overs in a day, if you miss them, the captain misses the next two games.