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I’m going to send you straight back to that leather couch — Shane Warne on his bunny Daryll Cullinan

Australian spinner Shane Warne gives South African batsman Darryl Cullinan a send off after bowling him for a duck on the final day of the first Test Match in Melbourne.

FILE - Australian spinner Shane Warne gives South African batsman Darryl Cullinan a send off after bowling him for a duck on the final day of the first Test Match in Melbourne. Photo: William West/AFP

Published Mar 4, 2022


Centurion — As tributes poured in for Australian cricket legend Shane Warne, who died at the age of 52 on Friday, it’s worth remembering the complete domination he had over former Proteas batsman Daryll Cullinan.

Cullinan, now aged 55, played 70 Test matches and averaged 44 with 14 centuries and 20 50s. Against Australia, however, in the seven Tests he played, he scored just 153 runs at an average of 12 with a highest score of 47. In total, Warne dismissed Cullinan 12 times in 29 matches in ODIs and Tests.

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Warne played 145 Test matches and 194 One-Day Internationals for Australia from 1992 to 2007. In Tests, Warne took 708 wickets and in ODIs claimed 293 wickets.

Cullinan, was always seen to be Warne’s bunny, or an easy victim in whichever format they came up against each other.

In Warne’s autobiography published in 2001, he dedicated over a page to his relationship with Cullinan.

“Cricket isn’t an easy game, but it is a great leveller sometimes. Fortunately, I have learnt it is far more effective to make the odd comment here and there to maintain a continual flow,” said Warne.

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“Certain batsmen are vulnerable — Daryll Cullinan more than most. We have had a lot of success against him before the South Africans toured in 1997/1998. Just before the start of the series there was a double page feature in an Australian newspaper in which he revealed how he had seen a psychiatrist to help him overcome Shane Warne and the Aussies. I couldn’t believe it. I knew Daryll was a bit fragile at times, but never imagined he would go to a shrink to learn how to read a googly.”

Warne went on to describe how he quickly outsmarted Cullinan during the first Test.

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“The first Test at Melbourne finally dawned. Adam Bacher fell to a fine slip catch by Mark Taylor and my old mate walked out gingerly. I let him take guard before saying ‘Daryll, I’ve waited so long for this moment and I’m going to send you straight back to that leather couch.’ A couple balls later I bowled him for a duck. He was more embarrassed than anything else, but those words had clearly unsettled him, and he didn’t take any further part in the Test series.”

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Warne said that the relationship between the two of them could have been fine, if Cullinan had been willing to communicate.

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“There had been a few verbals between us, but why should I want to sort anything out when I had the upper hand? If Daryll had sense he would have come into our dressing room at the close of a day’s play, shared a beer and just got to know us all a little better. There are no mates out on a cricket field.

“We all play to win, but we are not monsters and never rub it in any more than we have to.”

Never one to miss an opportunity to taunt the opposition, Warne made special mention of that infamous Cricket World Cup semi-final in England in 1999, which the two teams tied and as a result meant Australia went through to the final — which they would go on to win - on a superior run-rate throughout the tournament.

“The first time I could really classify as a proper chat with Daryll was after the World Cup semi-final at Edgbaston. It was a bit uneasy. As we exchanged shirts he said ‘I expect this will take pride of place in the bunny’s section.’ I just laughed with him and said it would go on the wall with all the others.”

Indeed, the battle between Warne and Cullinan was one-sided and was indicative of the cricket nous Warne possessed to not only out-spin his opposition, but to outsmart them too. The cricketing genius of Warne will be sorely missed, even possibly by Cullinan.


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