The Rajasthan Royals, captained and coached by Shane Warne, have been winning a plethora of good press of late for their team spirit, energy and optimism during this inaugural Indian Premier League. They have a list that on paper and in terms of value is less than all others competing but they have won, and won handsomely, in three of their four games to date.
Every press agency has explained this by lashing praise on Warne, for his tactics, his presence, his pure genius and his ability but what few of them know is that Warne’s masterstroke was who he brought with him from Australia. He is there on the bench for every Rajasthan match, slapping backs, filling bottles, motivating and imparting his wisdom that comes direct from every South Australian and Australian captain since 1962. He is the Baggygreen’s secret weapon, well known in cricketing circles on the dry southern continent and the most respected man in Australian cricket, Barry Nugget Rees.
The people in Rajasthan are probably unaware that they have a man of Nugget’s standing motivating their charges. A trusted confidante of Ian Chappell and Sir Garfield Sobers, another friend Adam Gilchrist describes him as “the most honest, open, loyal, respectful human being you’ll ever come across.”
He was the special guest at Steve Waugh’s final Test, gave the premier speech at David Hookes wedding and is godfather to Darren Lehmann’s children. He’s had lunch with the Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth and by all reports charmed them both with his witty simplicity and all too natural honesty.
Rod Marsh describes him as the most important man in Australian cricket and few in the know would disagree. Eminent surgeon Doctor Donald Beard, the SACA medical officer for many years concurs, “Barry Nugget Rees is the most remarkable person I have ever met.”
His wit has disarmed many an explosive or depressing moment and Ashley Mallet tells an anecdote that illustrates this perfectly.
When you get out, Nugget is first by your side with a cold drink and a comforting word. Once Lennie Pascoe clean-bowled me first ball and when I got back to the room, Nugget sidled up to me and said, “Bad luck Rowdy… it was a bad decision.”
Steve Waugh tells a similar tale.
Having Nugget around I think just gives you perspective, you know. When things aren’t going well on the field and you’ve come off and you’ve played a bad shot and you’ve been dismissed, I mean, you feel pretty angry with yourself and then you see Nugget in the corner of the room, sort of waiting there, saying, “Well played, bad luck. It was a terrible decision.” All of a sudden he brings you back down to earth and grounds you.
In the Adelaide Oval dressing room where Nugget holds court he gives the team speech before Australia take the field and no-one is spared including the captain or coach. In John Buchanan’s first Test in Adelaide Nugget put him in his place early by telling him “to turn that bloody computer off mate! No-one ever took a wicket or scored a run with one of those.”
Shane Warne who first met Nugget in 1992 calls him regularly no matter where he is in the world and has described him as “his inspiration” That he was invited by Warne to India is probably Shane’s most astute move as captain/coach for with Nugget on your side everyone’s a winner.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission produced a documentary on Barry Nugget Rees and his special place in Australian cricket that can be viewed via this link. It runs 28 minutes and it gives a unique insight to the people and culture of cricket on the southern continent. If you want to know why Australian cricket is the world’s best then check out our secret weapon, the man they call Nugget.