Days before IPL Season 1, Warne had threatened to walk out from Rajasthan Royals

6 months ago 85

The Rajasthan Royals fairytale of the inaugural IPL season, the one that the Class of 2022 looks to emulate at Ahmedabad today, almost didn’t happen. Days before the start of the 2008 season, Shane Warne had threatened a walk out over squad selection differences with owner Manoj Badale.

In his autobiography No Spin, Warne, without identifying the player, writes about him putting his foot down over Badale’s demand/request of making that one change to the squad of 16. The prickly conversation between the two decision-makers had taken place after Warne, along with coaches and senior players, had pruned the list of 50 players.

At the 10-day long team trials, the Aussie great had been impressed by Indian uncapped players like Ravindra Jadeja and Swapnil Asnodkar but the player, who he refers to as Asif, wasn’t up to the mark. Badale, based on statistics, pressed for Asif’s inclusion and that’s when Warne gave the ultimatum. His argument was simple, he had been fair in assessing the players at the trial and by including a lesser player he would lose the respect of the dressing room.

“If I put Asif in that group, they’ll know he’s not good enough and that he’s there because of some hidden favouritism. At that point, I’ll lose them. So if you want Asif in the squad, that’s fine, but I’ll give you your money back – I don’t want to be part of it.’ ‘Are you serious?’ asked Manoj (Badale). ‘I’m deadly serious,’ I said. ‘Let me sleep on it.’.”

The next day the RR owner came up with a compromise formula. Badale was fine with Asif not being included in the squad of 16 but he wanted the player to be in the dugout wearing the team shirt. No, not on Warne’s watch.

“‘No, the area is too small for all of us as it is, and, anyway, I don’t want him just sitting there, because again it looks like we’re doing him a favour. So no.’ ‘Okay,’ said Manoj.” The matter was closed, Warne got the team he wanted and the owner-captain earned each other’s respect.

It was this fairness that kept the team together all through the season, it made the likes of Jadeja give their best. They knew that Warne ran his team on meritocracy.
But things weren’t always smooth. The world knows that Warne called Jadeja the team’s ‘rockstar’ but the blue-eyed boy did get pulled up when he lost focus, or was late to the team bus.

“Ravi Jadeja was always late. First time, there was a bit of confusion with bags and stuff, so I let it slide. Second time, no good – the bus left at 9 am for training and he wasn’t on it, so he had to make his own way to the ground and, of course, was late again. On the way back after training, I stopped the bus halfway to the hotel and said, ‘Guys, we had someone late again this morning. Ravi, mate, get off here and walk home.’ One of his mates made a fuss, so I told him to get off too and they could walk back to the hotel together. No-one was late after that.”

This one-off episode apart, Warne and Jadeja shared a mutual respect that stayed intact years after that dream season. Jadeja went on to play for India, a year after the Rajasthan Royals triumph. “Every time we see each other now he still calls me ‘sir’ and talks about those days. I tell him I should be on 10 percent of everything he earns!” writes Warne.

This season after his untimely demise, has seen an outpouring of raw grief, and strengthened the resolve of a side Warne literally carved out of clay. “Right from the start, this tournament has been for Shane Warne. We need to take one more step for him,” Sanju Samson has said about the late Warne, who the team refers to as The First Royal.

🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨

How Badale convinced Warne to join Royals

The Warne-Rajasthan Royals story, even before the pre-IPL walkout threat, was a result of some very unlikely circumstances. At the time Lalit Modi was putting his IPL plans in place, Warne had given up on cricket. Retired from international cricket and nursing a battered body, a T20 startup in India didn’t excite him.

Finally, it was coincidence and a telephone call that changed his mind.

RR, for their first season, had hired a former IMG man Ravi Krishnan as its vice-president. Little did the Jaipur-based franchise know by this appointment they had set the ball rolling for hiring Warne, an unusual captaincy choice who would win them the IPL.

Ravi had played grade cricket at St Kilda and had gone to school with Warne. He would recommend Warne to Badale and suggest that the man with world cricket’s sharpest mind should be the pointman around whom his ‘moneyball’ team would take shape. Warne still wasn’t convinced. Eventually, Badale, during a call, uttered what Warne calls a ‘killer line” that changed his perception about IPL.

“Ravi called me again, saying, ‘You’ve got to make a decision. Every player has to put his name in the auction within the next week or two.’ I said, ‘Mate, I just don’t know.’ It was then that Manoj rang, this time with his killer line. ‘How are you feeling about this? We need an answer and, for what it’s worth, my view is that it gives you the chance to show you were the best captain that Australia never had. That’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. ‘Come on, let’s do it, come and run the franchise exactly as you believe a cricket team should be run. It’s a great chance to do the one thing in cricket you haven’t done yet: win a title in a big new event that is going to change cricket.”

It was this challenge that gave Warne the purpose to take the field once again. It would be the trigger that woke the fighter and plotter in him. The rest is history, the one that Sanju Samson and his men would like to repeat at Ahmedabad today.

Read Entire Article