Quite some time ago now we read an article exploring the legacy of Diego Maradona. It may have been in World Soccer magazine and it may well have been written by Tim Vickery but honestly we can’t remember. Anyway, it analysed the reception to both Maradona’s playing career, and his ‘career’ post-retirement within Argentina. The conclusion was that while he had been universally loved as a player (even in the Shilton household? – Ed), his post career antics – the drug use, health problems, shooting of journalists, and the most egregious of all, selecting Jonás Gutiérrez at right back for the 2010 World Cup – had cast a shadow over his legacy. The consequences of this were pretty blunt. There was now no way that Maradona would ever be thought of in Argentina in the same way as he had been during his playing days. The only way his reputation could be restored, in the opinion of this article, would be with his death. Once he had died everyone would instantly forget about Maradona the lunatic and just be happy to remember Maradona the footballer.
The comparison with Shane Warne’s current, ah, travails may not be exact but it’s pretty close. Warne was never universally loved while he was an international cricketer but he was universally admired. People, especially in Australia, were happy to put up with his bullshit whilst he remained a force in world cricket. The 2005 Ashes was, in many ways, his epitaph. Despite the drugs, the scandals and the relentless fuckwittery, everyone loved Warne in 2005. In 2016 though, with his playing days long behind him, Warne is just a tedious prick.
The reaction to his bleating about Steve Waugh dropping him for a Test in the West Indies is a pretty good indicator of where current opinion lies. Online comments sections might not be a scientifically accurate way to gauge public opinion (if they were then it’d be clear that the world has a firm ‘no comment’ to say about this site), but when about 90% of the comments are about how much of an utter wanker Warne has become these days, you’d be hard pressed to describe opinion of his ‘personality’ as mixed.
His charity going tits up in a wave of accusations and recriminations (none of it was his fault of course), his weighing in on the Adam Goodes debate, the ‘Warnifesto’ period (although we miss those glory days), his interviews of players after the World Cup final; bloody hell, the list goes on and on and on. And this is just the last year or so. All of this has not been the result of unfortunate press, but of Warne’s desperate – and sadly pathetic – need to be in the news all the time.
Warne seems to think that people have a love/hate relationship with him, that some will agree and some will disagree and that’s fine by him. But the ratio of love to hate seems to be sliding rapidly. It’s hard to find anyone who now doesn’t immediately think of Warne as an outspoken dick ahead of Warne as a world-class leg-spinner. In the space of about a decade, and increasingly rapidly over the past 48 months, Warne has successfully torn to shreds most of what remained of any affection he might have had from the public. People, and in particular Australians, just don’t seem to like Warne much at all anymore.
Much of this, it must be said, is kinda sad. While it’s funny to see just how deep his narcissism runs, particularly in regarding Waugh’s decision to drop him for the good of the team as a selfish decision because he didn’t happen to like it, it seems to reveal an almost pathetic need to be noticed. To be controversial or outspoken purely to garner some attention. Lots of people seem to think Warne is a bit of an idiot, but he isn’t really. Although, admittedly, the aliens stuff is forcing us to re-evaluate that opinion. Nevertheless, everything he does is neatly calculated to create a reaction. Even when nothing is happening, he is releasing ‘controversial’ best XI’s on his website, each aimed to create some sort of headline, for instance leaving Steve Waugh out of his best Australian XI since 1990, or no Richard Hadlee in a best ever New Zealand XI. You seriously can’t help feeling that he might be a man in need of some help.
Given the speed with which Warne has seemingly successfully managed to destroy what little sympathy that was left for him, it’s hard to see where he could go from here. The only real conclusion is even further down, with more scandals, more ‘opinions’, more bullshit. Warne was a great player back in his day, but my god he is an utter dickhead now. We don’t think things are quite as bleak as that assessment of Maradona, but honestly, we – and we suspect a great many others – would prefer it if he’d just go away now and leave us to remember Warne the cricketer.