We are not expected to overlook the personal themes of his book. A compulsive flirt, to put it more politely than he might himself, Warne was clearly damaged by his divorce, although he and Simone remain friendly. However, his separation from Elizabeth Hurley, with whom he lived in Gloucestershire and London, has obviously, to borrow a cricketing phrase, knocked him for six. There is a touch of Sinatra and Ava Gardner about their relationship. Hurley took something from him that he will never get back, and perhaps never knew that he had.
Warne is no fan of conventional wisdom. He says he lives by two inverted mottoes. ‘Always get ahead of yourself.’ ‘Always shoot the messenger.’ When the shit hits the fan – money, pills, women – Warne admits he gets spasms of panic. He has an understandable fear of getting ‘rubbed out’, whether by the cricketing authorities or by his family. But he never stays scared for long. There are two reasons for this. First, he doesn’t truly believe that any rubbing out will be permanent. He may get banned for a year, but not for life. He may lose his wife, but not his kids. And anyway, there’s always another opportunity out there – another match, another team, another woman. Second, there are things he fears far more than crossing the line and getting punished. One is getting crocked. He has the successful sportsman’s deep-seated dread of suffering a career-ending injury that no amount of pleading will remedy. There is nothing to be gained by holding your hand up when you’re facing the surgeon’s knife. You can’t bargain your way out of physical pain. ‘Operations and rehabilitation are the hidden side of sporting life. The surgery can be frightening and the trauma sucks oxygen out of you.’ His other terror is of being found out, not as a bad person, but as a bad player. The ultimate sporting humiliation, and the one Warne wants to avoid at all costs, is discovering that you aren’t good enough. Far worse than getting rubbed out is getting dropped.