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Just For Laughs

The story of Matthew Hayden’s first sighting of ‘The King’ Shane Warne

Hayden Warne
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Speaking on The Grade Cricketer podcast, former Australia opener Matthew Hayden hilariously narrated the tale of his first sighting of Shane Warne.

Both rank among the greatest Australians to have played the game, and each played a key part in making the Australia Test team of the late 1990s and early 2000s one of the most feared in cricket history. Each came through the state system at around the same time too, with Warne’s Victoria debut coming in 1990/91 and Hayden’s first game for Queensland coming the season after.

Australian first-cricket then was a world away from the professionalism of the current setup, as Hayden’s anecdote of when he first came across Warne shows.

“The first time I saw ‘The King’ Shane Warne was a game against Victoria,” said Hayden. “It had been pissing down with rain overnight, and Merv [Hughes, Victoria and Australia quick] had obviously made the call overnight to have a big one because it just looked like we were gonna get rained out. And so that’s what happened. Except we didn’t get rained out, you opened the curtains in the morning and it was bright blue sunshine as it often is up here in Queensland the night after a massive storm.

“And obviously it was green as, so Warnie didn’t play, he was 12th man. We won the toss and batted stupidly on a green top, as always we used to do that. And I turned to Trevor Barsby [Hayden’s Queensland opening partner] as we were walking across the dog track and I was walking behind him… it looked not dissimilar actually to those slipstreams, you know when they’re trying to put a new vehicle through its paces and they blow smoke over a fan and they get the slipstream and that beautiful photo of how aerodynamic they are? So I’m walking behind Trevor Barsby who’s just nervously puffing his cigarette, and I’m in his slipstream. And I say to him, ‘Mate, isn’t that that Shane Warne? He’s supposed to be the next big thing’. And he went, ‘Yeah that’s Warnie’.

“[I said] ‘Well mate they’ve got it right, he’s big.’ He was chomping away, he had a pie and a cigarette in the same hand, and he had a coke in the other hand, and he’s just trading blows. He was that happy because he wasn’t playing because he was so hungover. That’s what cricket was like. That was the culture, you play hard, and you’re also a player.”

The game in question was presumably the 1991/92 game between the sides – the only game Hayden played at home against Victoria before Warne’s Test debut, in which Hughes also featured. From the scorecard, it looks like an Australian sort of green seamer. Barsby, despite the nervous smoking, made a quick 165 in the first innings as Queensland racked up 374. Hayden had to be content with a 19-ball eight.

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