London:The euphoria of the Indian Premier League has long settled but leading a bunch of no-hopers to the ultimate glory still gives the thrills to Shane Warne.
Over two decades, Warne has tasted success at every level and the flamboyant spin legend says leading Rajasthan Royals to the IPL crown was one of the high points in his illustrious career and the entire experience made it such an exhilarating experience.
"In almost 20 years of playing the game at the highest level, I don't think I've ever experienced the intensity and passion from a crowd like we had in the IPL, except for maybe the Ashes," Warne told Sunday Times.
"The beauty of the competition was that I could bowl to Sachin Tendulkar in Rajasthan and a 70,000 home crowd would be cheering for me to knock over an icon of world cricket that is Indian. That was unbelievable," said the Australian.
Known for his view that coaches have no business in international cricket, Warne doubled up as coach-cum-captain of the Rajasthan side and he stood thoroughly vindicated when his team won the trophy.
"I retired from Test cricket so I could have more time with my kids, but I'd also grown tired of this other stuff you get in the game. It's called the 'professional era' but I don't think it works very well," said a candid Warne.
"You have a coach for this, a coach for that, you have got too many recovery sessions, too much mental stuff, too many team meetings, too much training for training's sake, and it all takes away from the actual sport.
"To me, the captain must run the show. You train hard and then get out there and play. In Rajasthan, if we had a day off there were no meetings or any of that rubbish. If people needed to go to the gym or wanted a session in the pool, that was their business.
"When we weren't training we sat around and spoke about cricket, how to construct an over, how we would beat the next opposition, and we went from being no-hopers to IPL champions," he said.
Warne was full of praise for his former Hampshire teammate Kevin Pietersen and when asked to compare the South Africa-born English batsman with Sachin Tendulkar, the leg-spinner said, "With Kevin, it's extraordinary potential. Sachin has done it, the best batsman I've bowled to. Very hard to split him and Brian Lara, but for me, Sachin was the hardest to bowl to.
"Early on we (the Australia team) tried to sledge him and he made three or four hundreds in a row, so we then befriended him. He and I have become very good mates, we text each other a lot."