Nine Axes Warne
By Trevor Marshallsea
SMH July 13, 2005
Shane Warne's bad behaviour has not just cost him his marriage - it has cost him one future career. Channel Nine boss Kerry Packer has reportedly told Warne that because of the tidal wave of negative publicity surrounding the leg spinner lately, it will not be renewing his contract with the network.
The effect is that Warne loses a deal in which Nine paid him a retainer worth some $300,000 a year to do not a whole lot.
The longer-term impact of the severing of his 11-year association with the network may hurt Warne more. The 35-year-old had been angling for a career in cricket commentary once he retired from playing the game, but the potential for that - in Australia at least - now seems to have hit rock bottom.
Warne's best bet will be to pursue a commentary role in England. Although he has been widely lampooned in the tabloid press there, the English cricket public does not have quite the level of disenchantment as its Australian equivalent over the spinner's off-field behaviour.
Warne, who commentated for Nine during his 12-month doping ban through 2003, receiving high commendation from his employers and enjoying the experience immensely, could also pursue a commentary career with one of the handful of production companies that cover various cricket contests around the world.
While newspaper reports had forewarned that Nine was sorely disappointed with Warne, news that it would not renew his contract when it expires in the coming weeks surprised many in the TV sports industry. Warne, the most successful bowler in Test cricket's 128-year history, had been considered too big a name for Australia's cricket broadcaster to lose to a rival network. He is also a friend of Packer's.
However, reports that Nine's recently returned executive director Sam Chisholm could not tolerate Warne and the negative off-field publicity which follows him have proved on the money. While Packer and Warne speak to each other often on the telephone, it was believed Chisholm felt the publicity which had dogged Warne's career in the limelight would be detrimental to the image of the Nine cricket commentary team, which also includes such respected characters as Richie Benaud and Mark Taylor.
Reports last night quoted Warne's brother and manager Jason as saying: "It is extremely disappointing given the length of the relationship [with Nine]. It [commentary] was something Shane was looking forward to doing in retirement."
Warne will, in the coming days, link with the Australian Test squad for the Ashes series, following a public marriage split which followed revelations he had had sex with three women during his current county stint with Hampshire before his wife Simone and their three children joined him in England last month.
Asked last week whether a network which employed a banned doping offender as a commentator would have a problem employing the same man when proven an unfaithful husband, Jason Warne said: "I'd like to think not." Last night he was proven wrong.