On Ya Warnie

Published: 2022
Pages: 158
Author: Piesse, Ken
Publisher: Wilkinson Publishing
Rating: 3.5 stars

This book was first published in 2007 and updated after the death of Shane Warne in 2022. On Ya Warnie is set out in a magazine type format, with lists, cartoons and photographs on almost every other page. Despite not outstaying its welcome it’s surprisingly informative. This is no doubt due to prolific cricket book author Ken Piesse who knows as much about Warne as anyone. A fan of Warne well before he was even considered a Test prospect, Ken Piesse first encountered the young leggie when Warne was playing for the Victorian second XI. Piesse has also written a full length biography on Warne.

Piesse takes us through the Warne story and provides a potted history of his colourful career. What we learn is that Warne is a flawed genius. His genius really equates to his ability to control and spin a cricket ball. Without cricket you can’t really imagine he would have amounted to much. Surprisingly cricket wasn’t even Warne’s first choice sport. His dream was to play at the highest level for Saint Kilda in the Australian Football League (AFL). The AFL’s loss was certainly cricket’s gain. 

On Ya Warnie covers all of the highlights, from his ‘ball of the century’ to his 700th wicket at the MCG. Some of the lists in the book include his best matches, most memorable wickets and ‘24 things you may not know about Warnie’. We learn a lot about his personality plus his likes and dislikes. These include his penchant for yo-yo diets, over 50 cigarettes a day, and a complete lack of vegetables. In fact his diet seems to have consisted of cheese toasties, vegemite on toast, baked beans, chip sandwiches and Margherita pizza.

While focusing on his great cricket career On Ya Warnie also tackles some of the more controversial areas of Warne’s life. These include his infidelity, sledging and ability to hold a grudge. His feud with former captain Steve Waugh is highlighted and Warne does not come away with much credit, after failing to find a place for Waugh in his top 25 of ‘Greatest Cricketers of His Time”. His other controversies were accusations of drug use and match fixing involvement. Piesse makes a strong case that both were naïve, dumb choices.

Probably the biggest regret of Warne’s career was his failure to win the Australian Test captaincy. This was almost certainly due to his off field behaviour. Piesse points out that this was a pity, as Warne demonstrated his skill in the few chances he was afforded the captaincy of his country in ODIs. Warne’s second regret as a Test cricketer was his failure to score a Test century with his best effort being a 99.

The book finishes with a recap of Warne’s State Memorial. This, although melancholy was a poignant way to end On Ya Warnie, and reminds us all what his loss at just 52 meant to so many around the cricketing world. On Ya Warnie, is the ideal cricket gift this Christmas and will no doubt be a huge seller.    

On Ya Warnie retails in Australia for $29.99

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