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  • Georgie Maynard

Not just the King of Spin, but the King of Connection too

The passing of Shane Warne not only took us all off guard, but the emotional impact it had on us was telling. At first it was utterly shocking, the word rebounding on social media was ‘unbelievable’ and indeed it was. And then it was just incredibly sad. For Shane Warne was larger than life. He was woven into the very fabric of Aussie summers. He was the larrikin that remained just that, a larrikin, with a twinkle in the eye that never seemed to fade.

His passing was confronting too, because it brought in to light our very own mortality. How someone so alive, so present could now no longer be with us. It made us hold onto our loved ones that moment longer, it united Australians and cricket fans throughout the world in a shared grief.

The legendary status he has held within the Australian sporting world is well known and long standing. And when it was time to walk away from the crease he befriended us through the mic. No Australian summer was complete without his commentary, his laugh, his different take on things, his opinions. He was listened to, and he was loved. But his presence was felt far beyond the sporting world, he was an Australian icon. Whose reach permeated Australian culture more broadly. He was a man loved at home but also cherished overseas. To hear the Poms talk about Shane Warne is to hear genuine love and affection, the disbelief that he was gone was just as strong, and the outpouring of respect reverberated around the globe from his competitors in the sub-continent, the Caribbean, to across the ditch.

However, it is the connection that he had developed over many years that makes Shane Warne stand out. Over the last few months we’ve heard numerous stories about the rapport he developed with those he played with, worked with, collaborated with or helped through charity. It is this ability to develop a connection that makes Warne so unique.

I met Shane once, it was fleeting, and unplanned. I had been panic shopping in Westfield prior to Christmas and he was doing a book signing. What I found fascinating about the encounter, and I mentioned this to my husband at the time, was how, in the shortest of moments, he established a connection. Not only was Shane's note to my husband in the book something that would build my husband's own personal connection, but as I turned to leave, he said something, that drew me back to reconnect. The words are kind of irrelevant, it was the fact that he sought out a connection that I found fascinating.

When we look at our BenchMark model, at the heart of emotional connection are five core values: respect, enjoyment, trust, pride and bond. If we work through all of these one by one it’s clear that Warne would tick them all off: immense respect for his abilities; enjoyment – well there was never a dull moment; trust to uphold the integrity of the sport; pride in his achievements. However, it is this last one where Warne has such a significant advantage of other Australian athletes, or indeed Australians in the public eye. Bond is by far the hardest of the core values to establish, but it is exactly moments such as the book signing [and you can insert your own experience here], that demonstrate why he was the king not only of spin but the king of connection too.

Vale Shane Warne.

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