In his short time as Melbourne Stars captain, Shane Warne has made self-aggrandising statements about his ability to return to Test cricket and dominate if only he felt like it, denigrated a national captain on live television and victimised a vulnerable opponent.
It suited Cricket Australia and the Stars nicely for Warne to pump himself and the fledgling Big Bash League up on demand. Indeed, CA, the Stars and Fox Sports pay Warne to do just that, handsomely, even if on that occasion it made Nathan Lyon's quest for credibility as the incumbent Test spinner more difficult than it already was.
Warne cops one match ban
An aggressive on-field outburst from Shane Warne in the Big Bash league has landed the veteran spinner a one match ban.
Even Warne's comments while wired up for Fox Sports and bowling to George Bailey, conveying his thinly disguised contempt for the Tasmanian's promotion to the position of national Twenty20 captain, could be dismissed as ''typical Warnie''.
But with his final, outrageous outburst at Marlon Samuels on Sunday night, Warne has trashed his own reputation and piddled on the league that enabled his highly-paid comeback. Thank goodness Australian cricket officials had the sense not to make him Test captain.
Warne's status as the BBL's biggest personality has brought the intoxicating mix of sport and entertainment that CA craved, but if any of the 46,000 people who were at the MCG on Sunday night left the ground thinking his obscenities and threatening gestures were ''part of the game'', then he and the tournament's makers have sold cricket short.
Not that Samuels was blameless. When he can see through his swollen eye again, the West Indies batsman will face two charges, one for making inappropriate physical contact with David Hussey when he grabbed his shirt to block him from taking a second run, and another for ''unbecoming behaviour'', which presumably covers tossing his bat in Warne's general direction after he was struck on the body by a throw from the spin legend.
Samuels, an emotional man, has a history of getting into trouble. He was banned from international cricket for two years for liaising with a bookmaker, a charge he denied, and his bowling action has been reported in both Test cricket and the Indian Premier League. It had also been ''mentioned'' by at least one BBL umpire before Brisbane Heat coach Darren Lehmann publicly accused Samuels of chucking.
Lehmann might have been entitled to voice an opinion held privately by others but he was wrong when he said Samuels had been suspended from bowling in the IPL. From the moment Lehmann made those comments, Samuels has been hounded as if by a pack, and he does not deserve that.
Lehmann's Adelaide Strikers counterpart Darren Berry joined in, reportedly provoking Samuels by warning him not to bowl his quicker ball. Warne, his much-vaunted team on the way to being thrashed and a place in the semi-finals under threat, took up the attack, and there was little doubt that the Stars' aggression escalated when Samuels walked out to bat on Sunday night. All three - Lehmann, Berry and Warne - have been hauled before CA disciplinary hearings with Samuels as the central figure in the drama.
The enduring image, though, is of Warne ranting at a fed-up opponent. The fear when he came back to professional cricket at the age of 41 was that the legacy of the world's greatest leg-spinner could be damaged, that he might not be good enough any more, or that he might cost someone a sponsorship by doing something dumb off the field. With the exception of some inept fielding and a speeding fine in England, those fears have not materialised. The bigger shame is that a legend like Warne would demean himself with his on-field behaviour, all for the sake of a place in a T20 semi-final. Some will say the episode provides the ultimate endorsement of the BBL's potential to incite passions among players and spectators. If that is true, it really is faux sport.