What better way to start a year then knowing you can receive a gift, use it and pass it on to someone else who'll gleefully emulate that gesture, provided you agree.

That gift is No Spin — Shane Warne with Mark Nicholas which, I must confess, hit the book store shelves in October but I reserved my verdict on it at the peak of summer cricket when it'll better capture the interest of the young and restless who worship the art of tweaking.

The 114-page autobiography isn't a literary award winner, even though Nicholas' maiden work, A Beautiful Game, won three in 2016.

No, it's an unpretentious attempt to keep the book in the, not surprisingly, Warney genre.


That means anyone from an intermediate school pupil to those who wouldn't know how to find a book under the Dewey Decimal Classification system of a library can comprehend it.

It's an oxymoron in the sense that no right-minded parent would want his child to read for fear of thinking Warne's behaviour, often consigned to the front page of trashy tabloids, is outlandish but, believe it or not, some of the sepia-toned pages can be inspirational stuff.

Put his bedroom antics, drinking and smoking aside, and there's substance in what he has to share in the intriguing art of leg spinning.

Chapter 9, especially, is enlightening in that Warne isn't scared to share his experiences with a total disregard for what specialist bowling coaches try to impress on budding spinners.

"I've heard coaches tell guys to grip the ball tight with their fingers spread wide. Wrong! In fact, in my view, that's the worst advice you can give ... "

He goes on to touch on how every delivery is an event and how shuffling fielders around becomes part of the psychological warfare a bowler can resort to in the hope of instilling fear in the batsmen — something fast bowlers tend to do with toe-crunching or rib-tickling stingers.

In many respects, Warney assumes the mantle of Elvis Presley of the contemporary spin bowling era because the art was always prevalent in the subcontinent but the media didn't consider it sexy enough to put it on centre stage until the blonde boy from Black Rock started finding prodigious turn.

Just as Presley took hip-gyrating moves from the African-American ghettos to the conservative living rooms in the United States, the Victorian cricketer had suddenly found rock and roll on the dirt tracks of the subcontinent, after years of turning down flights on the promise of shipments of canned baked beans to ward off the dreaded Delhi belly.

Off the wicket, his life lessons also should strike a chord with parents and their offspring, especially more so now than before because of the PC madness that has crept into everything.

Shane Warne speaks highly of former coach and mentor Terry Jenner despite the latter's tough love towards the Australian leg spinner. Photo/Photosport
Shane Warne speaks highly of former coach and mentor Terry Jenner despite the latter's tough love towards the Australian leg spinner. Photo/Photosport

His former mentor, Terry Jenner, in his maiden appraisal, doesn't mince words.

"He said: 'You are overweight — fat, actually. You have no discipline and you think you are better than you are. You didn't deserve to play for Australia'."

But, take a bow Jenner, that tough love didn't extend to trying to redesign his bowling action.

Akin to golf, bowling and batting aren't confined to textbook way or the highway.

A lion's share of the book is similar to watching a test match on days three and four, when you start wondering if the pitch is going to mutate enough to ensure both sides will enter the final day with an even battle between bat and ball for an intriguing finish.

The underlying purpose, it seems, is a public apology to his parents and children for behaving like a drongo when it became too mundane to just be a Ferrari-switching bogan.

Like Tiger Woods, the purists will ignore the indiscretions to embrace the bloke who delivered the "ball of the century" to England batsman Mike Gatting.

As for brutal honesty, I'm afraid it's Warney's spin no matter what angle you look at it from.

I wasn't convinced then of his "my momma gave me a fluid pill" to lose "a few extra chins" and I remain sceptical now.

To put anything in one's mouth as a professional sportsperson is bad enough but when it is diurectic to mask steroids then it becomes heresy.

But when you're talking about a country where there's a sense of urgency to recall three banned cricketers caught up in the middle of the sandpaper-gate scandal, then it is believable that Warne can still be recognised as "great".

Ditto his entire chapter 7 dedicated to the "Unguarded Moment" where Mark Waugh introduces him to a "John" who offers Warne a $5000 gambling chip before Salim Malik's alleged $200,000 offer to bowl wide of the off stump, with Tim May, before the turn of the century.

That it took the Australian Cricket Board four years to reveal Warne and Waugh had been fined $8000 and $10,000, respectively, a year after their misdeeds is as peculiar, to the say the least, as the former not knowing even whether "John" was a wealthy Sri Lankan.

What's mind boggling is the ACB's reluctance to delve deeper into Waugh's "friendship" with John, and Warne not incensed enough to grill Waugh for almost ending his career.

Warne's dislike for former captain Steve Waugh is laid bare but, perhaps, of more interest to Kiwis would have been his ability to influence the Black Caps of his reservations on former Australia coach and New Zealand director of cricket John Buchanan who had appointed Ross Taylor captain over Brendon McCallum.

As I queue at the turnstiles as a spectator to watch the fourth and final test match between Australia and India at the Sydney Cricket Ground this week, after having watched on TV Warne and Waugh commentate the third test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, it'll go a long way to explaining why not too many Aussie fans have flocked to the series matches where bullish blue brigade of the "Swamy Army" has invaded venues.

For a country where cricket is the No 1 sport, "greatness", individually and collectively, somewhat loses its sheen when you start reaching for sandpaper in a Lord of the Flies-type of culture.

No spin? Methinks there's still enough flight and drift left out there to spin a few more yarns yet, Warney, mate.

Stephen Fleming (left) and good mate Shane Warne often sat down to haggle over eking out a result during their county cricket campaign in England. Photo/Photosport
Stephen Fleming (left) and good mate Shane Warne often sat down to haggle over eking out a result during their county cricket campaign in England. Photo/Photosport