Cricket: Kiwis warming to Warney

New Zealanders are getting to see the other side of Shane Warne.

And he's getting to see the other side of them during his tsunami appeal cricket tour of the country as captain of the World 11 who are playing the second of three one-day internationals against the Black Caps today.

It began when Warne climbed off a plane in Christchurch on Friday and got a spontaneous round of applause from people in the air terminal, almost causing him to faint.

It continued in Saturday's opening limited overs game in Christchurch, a city not known for bipartisanship among its sporting crowds.

The locals gave Warne a rousing ovation when he came out to bat at Jade Stadium, home of the Crusaders rugby team.

When he took the ball there were chants of "Warney, Warney" from the southern terrace.

It didn't have quite the intensity of the MCG but it was in the same spirit, even though like everyone else he was soon getting hit for six by New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, who made 106 off 57 balls.

That did Warne's public image no harm at all.

Everyone is remarking on how nice he's been and how well he is handling himself.

New Zealand cricket officials are delighted, the media have been charmed by him, and in return he can't do enough for them.

When he arrived in the capital yesterday he went straight to the windswept Basin Reserve and good-naturedly answered every question thrown at him, when he looked like what he most needed was a good lie-down after what he described as "a bit of team bonding" the night before.

This is the city where five years ago Warne became public enemy No 1 for monstering a schoolboy who took a photograph of him while he was smoking.

Warne, who was being sponsored by a quit smoking company, is still smoking, but is more discreet about it.

Today he returns to Westpac Stadium, the scene of that incident, where he will try to rally his side from the nine-wicket mauling in Christchurch.

Jonty Rhodes, player/coach of the World 11, says it is a thrill to be on the same side as the great spinners, Warne and Muralitharan.

"The experience of getting together with these sorts of players on the same field is just awesome," said Rhodes, who came out of retirement to be part of this series.

Fleming has become a card-carrying member of the New Zealand branch of the Shane Warne fan club.

"He's great for the game," Fleming said.

"He's obviously had times when he's tested people's support but in my dealings with him he's been great.

"He's been great to the New Zealand players with his wisdom -- he's always very keen to talk and share a beer afterwards.

"It's a testament to him that he's come over here to help out the cause, but also to entertain.

"That I think sums him up. He's an entertainer and damn good at it."

- AAP

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