Shane Warne let rip on his former captain Steve Waugh last night on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, in what might politely be classed as a case of neither forgiving nor forgetting, but what could be called in more ungenerous terms a "massive middle-aged man sook".
Seventeen years after being dropped -- the only match in which he missed selection in a career spanning 145 Tests -- Warne has still not come to terms with the fact that, on one particular occasion in his 16-year Test career, another player was deemed more useful to a thing called a team than he was.
"There's a lot of reasons I don't like Steve Waugh," Warne revealed from the set of the reality show, which though marketed as being in the "African jungle", is actually set in dry countryside several thousand kilometres from the nearest jungle.
"He's the most selfish cricketer I've played with," Warne said. "One thing that really annoyed me about him was the one Test I got dropped, in the West Indies [in 1999].
"We had to win the last Test match. At that stage, captain [Waugh], vice-captain [Warne himself], coach [Geoff Marsh] used to pick the team. We went to selection. I hadn't bowled well [in the previous match] we had lost, Brian Lara batted unreal.
"But I felt like I was being the scapegoat, that because I didn't bowl well it was my fault."
That third Test of the series in which Warne admits he didn't bowl well, at Bridgetown Barbados, was a famous match. Australia had a big first-innings lead but the West Indies won the match with a wicket to spare thanks to a magnificent century from West Indian batting legend Brian Lara, who made 153 not out.
Warne took 1 for 70 and 0 for 69 in his two innings at the bowling crease.
In the fourth Test, which Australia needed to win to tie the series 2-2, and which they did, Warne was not selected. In his place was Colin "Funky" Miller, the former fast bowler turned spinner who was most famous for the blue hair he once wore on the field.
By coincidence, Miller was featured this week on the excellent "Legends of Cricket" series on Fox Sports hosted by respected sports journalist and cricket specialist Robert Craddock. Miller revealed much on that show. Of particular interest to this story is the way Miller dealt with Warne after hearing he'd been selected at the champion's expense.
Miller said Warne was shattered. But rather than avoid him, Miller manfully approached him for advice "just to try and ease it for him," he said.
"I felt really bad for him because he’s a superstar. He’s a guy I looked up to as a bowler. He’s a guy I’ve known since his days in the academy... I got on really well with Shane. I really liked Shane.
“But you can imagine when you’re the superstar on the team and all of a sudden you’ve had one or two bad games, and some old guy comes in to take your spot... I think it affected how him and Steven communicated for the rest of their careers together."
Miller didn't for a moment lose sight of his place in the grand scheme of Australian cricket and did his best to let Warne know that. Yet to this day, Warne despises the captain for doing what was deemed best for the team.
Underlining the fact that he was more concerned about himself than the fate of the team, Warne even said "I thought it would have brought the best out of me" had he been selected.
One of the reasons Miller was selected for that fourth Test in Antigua is that, as a former paceman, he bowled spin faster than most tweakers. Miller said he bowled most balls at 95 km/h. Most spinners, Warne included, are in the 85 km/h range.
The faster balls didn't necessarily help Miller take wickets but they made him hard to score runs off. His job was to slow the prolific scoring of Brian Lara, who had made batting look easy against all comers in that series.
Miller duly did the job for which he'd been selected. His economy rate was 2 runs an over in the first innings, and a miserly 1.28 in the second. The pressure he created went a huge way to ensuring a dominant Australian victory.
Miller came across as an absolute gentleman in his Cricket Legends interview. He said he's working towards a quiet retirement and had nothing but kind words for everyone he played with.
Shane Warne, not so much. A generation of Aussie cricketers emerged as better players and people after being dropped at various stages of their careers -- Steve Waugh among them.
Back in 1999, Steve Waugh effectively said 'you're a celebrity, Warney, but I'm getting you out of here'. It was nothing personal, just a cricket thing.
Warney has shown in I'm A Celebrity that he's very good at letting bugs crawl all over him and swallowing all manner of disgusting African "jungle" foods, but not so good at swallowing his pride.Suggest a correction