The real Shane Warne: a force of nature who always made you feel the centre of his world

When Shane Warne picked up the phone for one of his columns for Telegraph Sport he always made you feel that at that point there was no other person in the world he would rather speak to. 

“Ah, G’day Houlty,” he would say, then every couple of minutes he would take a drag on a cigarette then resume talking cricket. “How many words do the office want?” Whatever you said to Warne, he would always give you three times more than you needed.

He would then assiduously read his copy, make small changes and tweaks as if he were working out a batsman at the other end. But always, like Sir Geoffrey Boycott, he would take responsibility for his copy and never blame the ghost if it attracted criticism. “It’s my name on it mate, don’t worry.” He would also always want to be reassured his copy was good. ”Did the office like it?” he would ask; endearing that one of game’s greatest always wanted to please.

He was a genuine superstar, whose fame went beyond the cricket field, but just a normal guy without any air of pretension or snobbery that you sometimes encounter with broadcasters or former top cricketers. He spoke to you as an equal, and was generous offering tickets to gigs for any of his famous friends like Chris Martin of Coldplay or the Foo Fighters.

As a ghost, your ideal columnist is someone who is readily available, professional, courteous and relies on their own knowledge of the game to provide the subject matter.

There could be frustration sometimes at getting hold of Warnie, but that was because he lived a rock and roll lifestyle 24 hours a day. 

You were never really sure where in the world he would be. During his relationship with Liz Hurley (always Elizabeth to Shane) there were times when they would be in New York and I would have to give a password or the pseudonym they were staying under to the receptionist at the hotel to be connected to his room. “It’s to keep the paparazzi out,” he would say. “Don’t tell anyone.”

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