Shane Warne and Bob Hawke – two of Australia’s most beloved larrikins – had more in common than a shared love of women, drinking and sport.
Warne’s mother Brigitte cleaned the Hawke family home in Melbourne in the early 1970s and the young Shane was a regular visitor to the house.
The legendary cricketer even credited the former prime minister with giving him some of his first lessons in the art of leg spin bowling on the Hawke tennis court.
Both men were flawed geniuses and had long, complicated relationships with the Australian public and each of their deaths brought an outpouring of grief.
Shane Warne and Bob Hawke – two of Australia’s most beloved larrikins – had more in common than a shared love of women, sport and a drink. Warne and Hawke are pictured at Lord’s after Australia won the 1999 World Cup final against Pakistan
Warne’s mother Brigitte cleaned Bob Hawke’s home in Melbourne in the early 1970s and the young Shane was a regular visitor. Warne, pictured with his mother, credited the former prime minister with giving him some of his first lessons in leg spin bowling on the Hawke tennis court
Warne died of a suspected heart attack last Friday in Thailand aged 52. Hawke died aged 89 in May 2019 in his Sydney home.
Just as Hawke transcended politics, Warne’s fame went far beyond sport and both were notorious womanisers.
Like Hawke did with his first wife Hazel, Warne would cheat on his wife Simone, and those marriages ended in divorce. Each man raised one son and two daughters.
Hawke and Warne enjoyed a cigar, although the cricketer was best known for his cigarette habit, and both liked a punt.
Warne has played in professional poker tournaments and a boxed set of poker chips was among the personal items Hawke’s second wife Blanche d’Alpuget sold off after his death.
What is not widely known is that Warne had a close personal relationship with Hawke that dated back to when Warne was a child.
Author Troy Bramston reveals this extraordinary link in his new book Bob Hawke: Demons and Destiny, published this month.
Just as Hawke transcended politics, Warne’s fame went far beyond sport. Like Hawke did with his first wife Hazel, Warne would cheat on his wife Simone, and both marriages ended in divorce. Each man had one son and two daughters. Hawke is pictured in Sydney in 1995
Hawke and his family lived in the bayside Melbourne suburb of Sandringham through the 1970s while he headed the Australian Council of Trade Unions and was federal president of the Labor Party.
The Hawkes bought the two-storey brick house at 25 Royal Avenue in July 1964 for £12,250 and later paid £5,000 for the adjacent tennis court.
Bramston states in his book that Hawke paid for the tennis court when he settled a defamation action against a Sydney newspaper which had called him a communist.
It was in the gable-roofed house at Sandringham there that the Hawke children Susan, Stephen and Roslyn spent much of their childhoods. (A fourth child, Robert Jr, died in infancy).
‘Not surprisingly, Hawke was rarely at home in time for dinner during the week and often he was in another city,’ Bramston writes.
‘He tried to get home on weekends, and mostly did, but they too were taken up with work and visitors.
Hawke and his family lived in the bayside Melbourne suburb of Sandringham through the 1970s while he headed the Australian Council of Trade Unions and was federal president of the Labor Party. Pictured are Stephen, Hazel, Susan, Bob and Roslyn Hawke
The Hawkes bought the two-storey brick house at 25 Royal Avenue in July 1964 for £12,250 and later paid £5,000 for the adjacent tennis court
‘Hazel ran a busy household: she had children of school age and a husband who was not home regularly, and she often had to facilitate last-minute guests such as journalists or union and party colleagues.
‘In the 1970s, Hazel had the help of Brigitte Warne, who would help clean the house for a few hours each week.
‘Brigitte and her two sons, Shane Jason, were regular visitors to the Hawke house.’
The Hawkes lived in the Sandringham house until they moved to The Lodge after Labor won the March 1983 federal poll.
Hawke would go on to win three more elections and was Australia’s longest-serving Labor prime minister when he was rolled by Paul Keating in December 1991.
Warne would become the world’s greatest leg-spinner and hold the record for most Test wickets at 708 until overtaken by Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan in 2007.
Hawke had been at Lord’s to see Warne win player of the match by taking 4 for 33 to help Australia beat Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup final.
Warne referred to his long association with Hawke while commentating on the fifth Test of the 2017-2018 Ashes series when cameras panned to Hawke (above). It become a tradition for Hawke to attend the SCG and drain a beer in view of the crowd and a television audience
After Hawke and Warne retired from the respective careers that made them famous they remained in the spotlight and their lives continued to intertwine.
Warne referred to his long association with Hawke while commentating on the fifth Test of the 2017-2018 Ashes series when cameras panned to Hawke in the crowd.
By then it had become a tradition for Hawke to attend the Sydney Cricket Ground and drain a beer for the television audience.
‘Good afternoon everyone,’ Warne said that day. ‘Look at that legend there. Bob Hawke, on the left there, ex-prime minister of Australia.
‘I’ve known him for 40 years and he loves doing this every year.’
Hawke appeared on screen sitting outside a corporate box holding a stemmed glass of beer in his hand, next to former cabinet colleague John Brown.
Warne, who was sharing Network Nine duties with Bill Lawry, gave a running commentary of Hawke in action between balls.
‘He’s bought his own beer today,’ Warne says. ‘The crowd get behind him to sort of say, “Rightio Bob, get it down in one”.
‘He’s just warming up to it at the moment. He’s just getting ready for it. He’s building himself up for it, Bill.
‘It’s a big moment that, at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Forget the wickets, the runs, the Richies, the everything, Bob Hawke, necking a pint.
Lawry: ‘He’s doing a Shane Warne. He’s posing.’
Warne: ‘Come on Bill. I’ve known Bob Hawke for 40 years. He taught me how to bowl some leg spinners on his tennis court.’
‘It’s now or never Bob. He’s ready, he’s waiting for it on the big screen. Here he comes… ‘
As Hawke downs the beer, Warne offershis encouragement, before there is a brief hiccup.
‘Go on Bobby, show us your technique. Here he goes. Simple. Doesn’t sip it. He puts it down in one. Look how quick he is.
‘Oh, oh, oh. Hang on. He hasn’t finished yet. He hasn’t finished. Well, he is 88 years of age, Bob Hawke. Give him a little bit of leeway.’
As Hawke drains the last drops, Warne gives his final approval.
‘Well done Bob. Great work. Super stuff Bob.’
Warne, who routinely knocked back ten pints in a session as a young cricketer in England, favoured Midori and lemonade then Red Bull and vodka later in life
Bramston described the Labor giant in his book as having been a ‘high-functioning’ alcoholic.
Hawke, who gave up drinking while he was prime minister, had set a world record of 11 seconds for emptying a yard glass of ale (2.5 imperial pints or about 1.4 litres) while a university student at Oxford in 1954.
Warne, who routinely knocked back ten pints in a session as a young cricketer in England, favoured Midori and lemonade then Red Bull and vodka later in life.
Bramston says Hawke was a sex addict who slept with with hundreds – perhaps thousands – of women.
When author Paul Barry suggested in this 2006 book Spun Out that Warne had bedded 1,000 women the cricket great denied it.
‘The only thing I will say about Paul Barry’s book is there are a lot of inaccuracies about it, a lot of exaggerations… the 1,000 women thing – an exaggeration,’ he said at the time.
But Warne did not want to take legal action.
‘Can’t be bothered,’ he said. ‘There are more important things in life than worrying about people who make up stuff.’
Tributes to Shane Warne including stubbies and cans of beer have been laid at the Melbourne Cricket Ground where he had so much success as a leg spinner