Ev­ery­one loves Kohli be­cause he al­ways speaks hon­estly: Warne

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES SPORT - K.Shrini­[email protected]­group.com

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.

Ex­cerpts …

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.

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