Warne still holds centre stage, but as a commentator

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London, Aug.13 (ANI): Former Australian leg spinner Shane Warne's delivery from behind the microphone is proving to be almost as compelling as with the ball in his heyday.

According to the Daily Telegraph, he does it with apparent ease.

His fellow commentators marvel at how Warne can be lounging in the back of the box eating pizza and playing computer card games, then when it's his turn to go on air he strolls over, picks up the microphone and immediately knows exactly what's been going on, and what's likely to happen next.

English audiences, by all accounts, are charmed by him. In truth, they've been in awe of him ever since his first delivery in Ashes cricket, the so-called Ball of the Century that dispatched Mike Gatting so comically at Old Trafford in 1993.

As a commentator Warne is confident, witty, informed, relaxed, and bursting with information. His brain, so scatty in other parts of his life, seems hard-wired to cricket.hen he comes to the microphone you find yourself leaning forward in your seat that little bit. Just as when he got hold of the ball, you know things are about to happen.

He is a born communicator, without need of charts or graphs or slow-motion replays to let you know what's going on, in language everyone can understand. He can take you through an over ball by ball, telling you what the bowler is thinking and how the batsman is trying to counter it.

He'll tell you how the field should be set, how fast a spinner should be bowling, how wide the slips should stand, and how a bowler is trying to draw a particular batsman across his crease.

Even from a distance of 16,000km Warne has the knack of holding you a finger's breadth from the action.

"Some people have just got it, and he's got it," says Channel Nine sports boss Steve Crawley, who is looking forward to having Warne in the commentary box for a few Tests of Richie Benaud's farewell summer. "It's just something that he's made for."

Crawley says there are no plans for Warne to take over from Richie when he retires at the end of the next Australia season. "He's got too much else on."

Although their styles are very different, Warne has Benaud's skill of being able to tell you things you haven't already worked out for yourself.

Benaud maintains the secret to television commentary is keeping quiet until you can add something to what is already on the screen.

He learnt it at a BBC training school in 1956. Though Warne opens his mouth more often than Benaud, it is something he seems to know by instinct.

The first great Australian leggie Arthur Mailey wrote about the game with immense grace and wit. Bill O'Reilly also wrote beautifully, penning acerbic and insightful columns for the Sydney Morning Herald right up to the time of his death in 1992.

Terry Jenner is renowned for his forthright views and insights, while his contemporary Kerry O'Keeffe has reinvented himself as cricket's funny man, adding gravitas to the vaudeville with his astute reading of the game.

Trevor Hohns became the shrewdest of selectors and now we find Warne's long-suffering understudy and sometime Test partner Stuart MacGill suavely hosting SBS's Ashes coverage, in addition to fronting his own lifestyle show.

arne's commentary underlines what many of his supporters (Ian Chappell foremost among them) advocated in his playing career - that he would have made a brilliant Australian captain. (ANI)

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