Former Australia spinner Shane Warne has labelled the entire Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul controversy as ‘ridiculous’ and called for everyone to ‘let them be’. Pandya and KL Rahul were slammed for their sexist comments on TV show ‘Koffee with Karan’ with filmmaker Karan Johar. They were shown a show cause notice by the cricket board BCCI and were suspended. However, their suspension was lifted until the next hearing in the Supreme Court which allowed KL Rahul to play for India A against England Lions and for Pandya to travel to New Zealand for the limited overs series.
"Good lord. As I said, it’s all about political correctness these days. If a player steps out of line, everybody has an opinion and I thought that this particular thing was ridiculous. Just let them be," said Warne to Times of India.
"We live in a world that’s increasingly becoming politically correct. And what we want to see from sportspersons is them being real. We want to see their emotions, see them playing with freedom, expressing themselves. We don’t want to see them conforming. For instance, most player interviews these days go like this: Question: Well, that was a fantastic result today. How do you feel? Answer: Well, it was a great team effort. Everybody played well and did their part. I’m just trying my best and happy to contribute to the team – That’s what everyone says. Guys have to get more real," he added.
Warne heaped praise on India skipper Virat Kohli for not sticking to the regular line which makes him popular with the fans as well. "He’s fantastic. I love watching him bat and I love listening to him. I am a big fan. You know what he does? He stands up for what he believes in. He speaks how he feels and he’s real. He’s emotional, a bit too emotional sometimes on the field. But that’s the part of the charm."
"I think world cricket loves him. Everyone loves Virat Kohli because it’s refreshing to hearing him talk so honestly and openly. He loves confrontation. That’s why he has those 100s in chases. How many, 23, 24? The next best is how much? I can’t remember who’s second. That’s something inbuilt into you. That’s not skill or talent. He’s got a lot of that. That is just pure competitiveness and pure desire – to get the job done," said Warne who has been appointed as the brand ambassador of Rajasthan Royals – who he led to title in the first IPL season.
Speaking about new association with the Royals where he won’t be part of the cricketing side of things – a first in ten years – Warne said, "There’s a loyalty factor attached to club sport and I like that. I’ve always only played for one team. Australia, Victoria, St. Kilda and Rajasthan Royals. In county cricket, it was Hampshire. I’ve had many roles here but what really drove me was the people of Jaipur. There wasn’t much expectation, they just wanted their team to do well. There was a feeling of appreciation and I felt they took me for who I was. They gave me the space. I want to pay back that loyalty."
"Firstly, there’s a huge difference between being liked and being respected. I got both in plenty with RR. Today, franchises have a bowling coach, a batting coach, physios, mentors, team managers – there are so many people around the team now doling out advice. In my case, it was a one-stop shop. That helped. Being honest with the players helped. If a player wanted to know why he was in the team, or why he wasn’t, all he had to do is come to me and I always kept that door open. All of that resulted in a nice build-up and we could create an amazing team. It’s the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done in cricket – help create everybody’s favourite underdog in IPL," he added.