What are you looking for in a sports film/documentary and what do you already know about Shane Keith Warne? The answer to those questions will go a long way in dictating what you make of ‘Shane’, the recently released feature on Australia’s favourite leg spinner.
Maybe you’re someone who has never heard of Warne; you’re flicking through your options on Amazon Prime, the premise catches your eye and you give it a go. If that’s the case, the 1 hour 36 minute running time will probably tick a lot of boxes. It covers everything the more informed person already knows. A tale of an AFL loving Victorian who couldn’t quite reach the top level of that sport, but instead embarked upon one of the most successful and colourful cricket careers the world has seen.
There are interviews with family members, mentors, teammates, opponents and observers. Heck there’s even chats with popstars, but more of that later. Most significantly though, we hear directly from Warne himself. His thoughts and recollections dominate the narrative. He delivers the one liners, such as ‘I wanted to make every single ball an event’ and ‘one of my strengths on the field, is that I can intimidate people’ in typical Warne style, but also talks more candidly about the affect the game had on his family when he says ‘Cricket was always my number one priority. That doesn’t mean I didn’t value my family. But they were second’.
If you’re someone who’s already a fan of the person and the player, then there’s plenty to reinforce that. Warne remains the lovable everyman with a glint in his eye who’s had plenty of highs and lows and keeps on fighting. Immensely talented, but flawed. An exceptional cricketing brain, but prone to personal lapses of judgement. His ability to tell an anecdote serves him well during this film and even if you’ve heard or read about it somewhere before, his personality helps to freshen it up.
Although there’s plenty of cameos from the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Ian Botham, Andrew Strauss and Ian Chappell, the film lacks the in-depth examination into the Warne that helped Australia remain at the top of World cricket for so long. Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Michael Clarke appear briefly, but it’s window dressing and I was left waiting and hoping for someone like Glenn McGrath to perhaps add some depth about their bowling partnership, or Ricky Ponting to chart Warne’s contribution to the team. How did Warne contribute to the Ashes turnaround between 2005 and 2006/7 for example? I would have loved another 30 minutes on the running time to get more insights like that, as well as other parts of his career that are all too fleetingly mentioned.
Oh, back to the popstars. Chris Martin from Coldplay and Ed Sheeran, friends of Warne, make appearances. Nice fellas they might be, great buddies even, but it comes across as nothing more than an attempt to draw a wider audience, one which I’m not sure will really work anyway. Take their time away and maybe Kevin Pietersen, another contributor to the film, gets the opportunity to talk about his and Warne’s relationship at Hampshire and how that translated to their Ashes encounters…just an idea.
The last major storyline of the film is about Warne’s first season with the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL. From rank outsiders to competition winners, Warne’s role as captain and coach is shown as the key to victory. Maybe in many ways it was, but it’s a convenient happy ending that leaves so many things that have happened since out in the cold.
Ironically, I didn’t want the film to end, because I kept hoping for more. More depth, more examination, more risk from the filmmakers. It’s understandable that they and Warne have constructed the film in the way that they have, but ultimately it just feels incomplete. If it was a cricket match, you can’t help feeling Warne the player would have taken those risks and left it all out there.
‘Shane’ is available to watch now on Amazon Prime.
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