Durban: Ace Australian leg spinner Shane Warne, who exited the World Cup in shame after testing positive for a banned drug, was given a hero’s welcome by the youth in a local township despite common belief that his popularity had suffered due to his off-field indiscretions.
Hundreds of young boys and girls packed a plaza in the township of Phoenix, just north of the city, to get Warne’s autograph and to interact with him and discuss the intricacies of the game.
A school-teacher, S. Naicker, who accompanied the young brigade, said they were not too concerned about the recent drug problems that have forced Warne out of the game for a year or the other scandals involving the cricketer.
“This is a wonderful occasion for our kids,” Naicker said. “The principal and I agreed that the children would be inspired by Warne. He is an icon of world cricket.
“Anyway, it took an Australian sports star to take the trouble of coming here. We never see our South African heroes in Phoenix. And the drugs he took were not performance enhancing, so what is the problem'”
Warne has been invited by corporate sport to speak to business people and to visit some of the disadvantaged townships in order to promote the game.