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4.2 out of 5 stars23
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 11 December 2012
I have read most biographies and the autobiography of Shane Warne. This is easily the best book. Haigh does a superb job of classifying Warne's career into Warne 1.0 to Warne 4.0 and how he adapted himself during each phase. I also enjoyed the analysis of Warne's relationships with McGrath, S Waugh, MacGill and Buchanan. These throw a completely different light on the dynamics within the great Australian side. It was not all "hunky dory" when it came to relationships between Warne and S Waugh, Gilchrist and even Ponting, in the later years. Haigh is insightful in many places. For example, he observes that bowling partnerships, are a zero sum game, which creates its own conflicts as there are only 20 wickets to take whereas there is no such limit for a batting partnership.

There are three areas of the book where I feel Haigh has either not been objective or explored concepts fully:

1. Warne's record against India. Haigh mentions that Warne was injured on the 1998 tour and was just recovering from injury on the 2001 tour. He also mentions that Warne should have bowled a more restrictive line within the stumps when bowling in India. This does not go far enough for me for Warne's record against India is the one blot on a great career. He does not, for example, mention that Warne 1.0 never played a test against India or how Warne could have bowled more effectively.

2. He has not been objective with the diuretic episode that got Warne banned from the 2003 World Cup. It is too simple to accept that Warne took a tablet, given by his mother, to look good ahead of a World Cup. There was no question of his doing so to enhance his performance as he was not playing cricket during that time. It was certainly worth Haigh exploring whether he would have taken steroids, and a diuretic subsequently to mask the intake, to heal his shoulder injury, faster, to play in his last World Cup.

3. I accept that it is for Warne's wife, and not the media, or the fans to judge Warne for his dalliances with women. Even allowing for this, Haigh goes way too far to try to explain the potential reasons (e.g. how easy it is for male sports celebrities to flirt with women) on why Warne gets into these relationships. He eventually stops saying that offering further reasons is speculating since he knows and his objective is to analyse Warne the cricketer and not the person. But he has already gone too far before stopping.

For these three reasons, I rate this book with four stars instead of five. If your vocabulary is only as good as mine, I would recommend reading this book on a Kindle as Haigh's style is very expansive with his choice of words (even the Kindle's dictionary gives up on some words). The Kindle helps you look up meanings of words immediately rather than having a dictionary open on the side with a hardback or a paperback.
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on 14 January 2013
Gideon Haigh is probably the best writer on cricket in the world today.
Here he takes Shane Warne as his subject, and analyses him and uses Warne as a prism to assess the state of cricket, the state of masculinity and in fact the Australian nation himself.
This isn't through any major new knowledge or interviews, simply through sifting through the evidence with his customary intelligence, and opening it up to a wider perspective.
In different sections, he takes Warne the leg spinner, Warne the Test cricketer, Warne and 'cheating' (the minor betting information offence, for which he feels Warne was harshly treated, and the more foolish issue of diuretics to return to fitness, for which he feels Warne got what he deserved) and Warne the celebrity.
To give an example of his work, in the section on bowling, he notes four phases in Warne's bowling career: Phase 1: 1993-6, when the novelty of the phenomenal rip he gave the ball terrorised batsmen; Phase 2: 1997-2002, when he was occasionally outshone by Stuart Magill and was a lesser force; Phase 3: 2003-6 when he applied his experience and refined his genius to be better than ever, and Phase 4: to the present day, when he still turns his arm over in T20 matches. Within each, he explains why it happened, for example in Phase 2, how he prefers to be the 'go to' man, and was inhibited by Magill. Backed up by stats only where necessary, this is a brilliant book.
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VINE VOICEon 5 February 2014
Australia's best cricket writer on Australia's best cricketer (Bradman excepted?) - brilliant. This is a fascinating probing of Warne the cricketer, the celebrity, and the man. Haigh explores his relationships with key cricketing figures, including Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath, Stuart MacGill and John Buchanan in a fascinating way that reveals much about Warne's confidence, attitude to the game and above all his love of playing cricket. The public nature of his life, and its problems, is also tackled in a thoughtful way, asking the reader to ponder on the status that Warne has. A particularly interesting angle was that while many might have seen Warne as an ordinary person in some ways, the fact that he was, as Haigh puts it, the very best in the world at doing his job (bowling leg spin) there has ever been brings all sorts of pressures and expectations with it. This is really top rate writing.
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on 30 June 2014
This is not so much a biography of Shane Warne, but an extended essay, written by one of the best cricket writers out there. Gideon Haigh tries to go deep in his analysis of Shane Warne the cricketer and Shane Warne the person, covering Warne’s rise to greatness in the Australian cricket team, his relationship with teammates, opponents and managers, the problems in his private life and his post-international career. Really well-written and easy to read, but it allows the reader to access Warne’s inspirational yet troubled story.
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on 21 February 2013
The best cricket writer around delivers seamlessly once again. Rather like Warne himself without having to try too hard I suspect. That's it for me now. No need to have any other book on the great man. This gives you all you need to know and, thankfully, and unlike some other books, doesn't dwell on what you don't need to know. Reading his work is always an enjoyable and educational English lesson too. Thank goodness fir the built in dictionary on my kindle!
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on 8 December 2012
One would expect the best cricket writer of his generation to do the subject justice and of course it is far superior to the dozens of trashy ".. Fly by night " Warne biographies. Haigh uses 5 chapter headings to describe each part of what makes Warne - Warne. The book is therefore very largely free of statistics and chronology.
The book is not therefore meant to be an exhaustive resume - ala Rosenwater on Bradman, Foot on Gimblett or Haigh on Iveson. It is not therefore, Haigh trying his hardest.......still superior yes, but it dies not deserve 5 stars and I doubt Gideon would disagree.
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on 13 April 2013
As a cricket fan, I have loathed and admired Warne. His skill is there for all to see. Some of his antics on the field, as in the recent "Big Bash" make me ashamed to have admired him. Written for an Australian audience, I was left wondering if this book really took me much further.Only for cricket lovers
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on 3 November 2013
Gideon Haigh updates the Warne story and captures some of the insecurities which define the greatest leg spinner. My estimation of Warne has withered slightly as Haigh really does get underneath the ski. Of the leg spinner.
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on 10 May 2014
One of the greatest cricket writers on one of the greatest cricketers it couldn't fail. It is a study of Warne the cricketer and Warne the man and a brilliant one. However it is not a biography.
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on 23 July 2013
An ok thesis of Shane Warne's life to date ,I was hoping there would be more about his relationships with other cricketers especially his Australian test team teammates .
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