A book that’s as mesmerising as its subject

Gideon Haigh is one of the finest cricket writers at work today. His latest book, On Warne, is not a biography of arguably the greatest leg spin bowler of all time, it is an extended meditation on the magic and charisma of Shane Warne, the making and sustaining of his legend. As the blurb puts it: “One day, you might be asked what cricket in the time of Warne was like. On Warne is the definitive account.

On Warne is divided into five sections: the making of Warne; the art of Warne; the men of Warne; the trials of Warne; and the sport of Warne. Haigh is particularly delightful when he examines Warne’s technique and play, and how it was shaped. The closing pages, which describe how, even after giving up international cricket, Warne has seen no dwindling of his celebrity, are illuminating.

Haigh is incapable of writing a clunky sentence. Incisive, often funny, knowledgeable and compelling, On Warne is the sort of cricket book that we don’t have too many of. With its perceptive analysis and good writing, it is also a damning indictment of the definitive biography and the ghostwritten autobiography, those staples of the sport publishing which yield only the rare gem (such as Andre Agassi’s Open or John McEnroe’s Serious).

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