Shane Warne has revealed he threatened to walk out of the Rajasthan Royals side during the first season over interference in team selection by "certain people". In an interview to a television channel, Warne said he had had to make some tough decisions in his tenure as Rajasthan captain, and having his say over selection was one of them.
Warne, the Rajasthan captain, is playing his last IPL season, having announced his decision to retire from the league few days earlier on Twitter.
"There was one particular decision in which I really set the tone for the rest of the series," Warne said about the first season, when Rajasthan took the title. "It is really tough to make a squad, to make the final squad and there is always disappointment from players on missing the squad. And we were getting a little bit of pressure from certain people about playing certain players and I said to the owners, whom I had only known for ten days, 'Look, that's fine if you want X player in the squad but book me on QF 9 [a Qantas flight] because I'm going home.'
"I think that's important because everybody knows one or two players might be in the squad because of certain people they know and those types of things. And I said to the owners, 'Fine, you can make your call, either me or this guy in the squad, or these two guys in the squad, you put them in and I am out, simple.' They said, 'Are you serious'? I said 'Well, I am, yeah.'"
For everyone in the squad to know they had been picked on merit helped each other get along very well, Warne added. "We are all here on merit and that made them feel good straightaway, they way they were treated at training, the environment we created [was] about having fun, enjoyment."
Warne won praise for his leadership during the IPL, leaving many to wonder how he would have led Australia had he been given the opportunity for an extended period of time. Controversy followed Warne during his international career, though, and his captaincy of the national team was limited to 12 ODIs between 1998 and 1999. He never led Australia in a Test.
Warne, though, said he did not regret missing out on that opportunity. "If I didn't get the opportunities then so be it," he said. "I think the suits and ties and all, they were probably fair because I have been through a few things. I made poor calls and some poor choices. So they were probably right in the way they were thinking, saying 'It's too much of a risk, anything could happen in that stage of my life.'
His leadership of Rajasthan was marked out by a knack for spotting talent and, asked to name the Indian cricketers to watch, he named Rohit Sharma, who's been in and out of the Indian team in his career thus far. "To me Sharma is one," Warne said. "He has got all the talent in the world, if he could just get his mind right and get his attitude right, if his one thought was 'I want to become the best cricketer I possibly can'.
"Every morning he wakes up and tries to talk to Sachin...[If I were him] I'd be hanging out of his pocket, 'How do you think about batting? How do you approach it in these conditions?' Every minute of the day until Sachin says, 'Mate can I have five minutes break?' Keep pestering him.
"He should do that every morning he gets up, 'How am I going to become the best I can possibly be?' He could be a match-winner, a world beater and one of the best Indian cricketers ever, he has got that much talent."
Rajasthan have had a tough campaign this year with five wins from 12 games, and face a stiff task in order to qualify for the play-offs.