There's good reason for the Wankhede Stadium crowd to chant, "Shane, Shane" as much, if not more than the usual, "Sachin, Sachin!" at Friday's Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals Indian Premier League game.Â (Also Read: Mumbai eye revenge against Rajasthan)
For, Warne will never again play a competitive, serious match unless the maverick 41-year-old decides that he cannot live without turning his arm over.
Off-field controversies notwithstanding, Warne has been great for the game. He has not been spared for his misdemeanours and not many will say the spin legend has not taken it on the chin.
Like his equally celebrated rival Tendulkar, Warne has triumphed over injuries and pain in extraordinary fashion.
What makes him so special? While talking about Warne in his DVD on cricket's best all-time XI, Richie Benaud, a champion leg-spinner himself, said a few years ago when Warne was still on the Test scene: "I think about his comebacks more than the actual wickets he took with sides he bowled out because I expect him to do that.
But the comebacks; when he came back for his shoulder operation, when they (surgeons) opened him up and put the lazers on him, his shoulder was hanging on a piece of cotton. How he'd ever been bowling, I have absolutely no idea.
"Those are the things I think about Warne. Things like getting 13 wickets in a match... I expect him to do that because he is theÂ greatest leg-spinner the world has ever seen."
A big heart with loads of talent backed up by an extraordinary appetite to learn, and quickly is how Warne will be remembered. The learning factor gets highlighted through an example Benaud provides in the DVD. When he was making a mark for Victoria in 1991, Warne asked Benaud if he had any advice for him.
Benaud obliged, but stressed that it was a tip which legendary leg-spinner Bill O'Reilly gave him in 1953:
"Whatever you are doing now, change it to develop a fiercely spun leg break so that you can land it on the spot all the time. You can use it as a defensive weapon as well as an attacking one." Now, O'Reilly told Benaud that it would take him four years for this to come to fruition. Yes, it did take Benaud four years, but Warne did it in two.
And while the Wankhede crowd could chant, "Shane, Shane," back in Australia, it will be apt to say: "Shane Keith Warne... you beauty!"