Viral image spins truth about Shane Warne’s autobiography

Cricket legend Shane Warne’s death has led to a stream of tributes to the larrikin legspinner, with some social media users sharing what they believe to be a “world class” first page from his autobiography.

But the claim the image is from Warne’s 2018 autobiography No Spin is false. The same viral image was posted that year by a betting agency as part of a parody series of pages from purported sporting autobiographies.

Although its offbeat prose and outlandish tales may resemble the “Warnie” many Australians recognise, the text is completely different to that which appears on the first page of Warne’s true autobiography.

The image of the alleged autobiography page was posted soon after Warne’s death in Thailand on March 4, and has been shared across multiple social media platforms including Twitter (here, here and here), Facebook (here and here) and Reddit, with many users appearing to believe it is authentic.

The page purports to recall the point in Warne’s life when the young bowler first realised he had “made it” – sitting in an English hotel room on the night before his first Ashes Test and the so-called Ball of the Century, watching UK police drama The Bill a year ahead of the episodes being aired in Australia.

“I felt inescapably content, even the sight of Slats on the twin bed next to mine, playing the board game Mousetrap by himself couldn’t diminish my buzz,” the text reads.

However the first page of Warne’s autobiography, visible in a preview on Google Books, does not mention The Bill, Michael Slater (Slats) or the Ball of the Century. Instead, it recounts aspects of Warne’s Test cricket retirement announcement and his final Boxing Day Test over the Australian summer of 2006-07.

Similarly, the first page of the book’s introduction does not include any of the parody excerpt’s text, instead briefly highlighting Warne’s Melbourne roots, his relationships with women and approach to life.

Warne fans and keen cricket followers might also notice some factual inconsistencies in the parody page. While it says the Ball of the Century was his “first ball in International Cricket”, Warne’s Test debut was 18 months earlier in Sydney against India in January 1992.

The page also states the events took place in 1994, but the famous dismissal of bewildered English batsman Mike Gatting in Manchester was in June 1993.

The misalignment of the text in the viral image also provides a clue, as it does not accurately match the curvature of the page, suggesting it has been superimposed onto a separate image of an open book.

The image has been shared online since this 2018 post (see screenshot here) by Australian betting company Sportsbet. It was posted on October 6, a few days after the global release of No Spin.

Sportsbet has posted a series of spoof pages from “autobiographies” of famous cricketers including Michael Clarke, James Anderson and Matthew Hayden. The company did not respond when contacted by AAP FactCheck regarding the Warne autobiography image.

The Verdict

The claim that the viral image shows the first page of Shane Warne’s autobiography is false. The image is a parody and can be traced to a 2018 social media post from betting company Sportsbet, which has shared a series of spoof pages from the purported autobiographies of famous cricketers. The image’s text bears no likeliness to the first page of Warne’s actual autobiography, No Spin.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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