Shane Warne today announced that he was taking up yoga to keep his body in shape. Well, not really. Of course, he quit, as expected, but it would have been bloody funny if that HAD been today’s announcement.

One of these days, a savvy sports hero or public figure is going to play on the media’s increasing fascination with premature speculation and land one of the greatest practical jokes in history. It will be the media’s own fault for its increasing tabloid and increasingly hysterical habit of reporting the news before it happens. Have you noticed how nobody actually gets to make an announcement any more? These days, you only have to be “expected to make an announcement”.

Thorpie suffered from this media disease when he decided to quit, and now Warnie has caught it too.

It used to be that a fax would arrive in a newspaper office or TV news room, informing the journalists that a press conference had been booked for tomorrow at midday, for a special announcement, if they’d like to be there. The hacks would buzz about what the likely announcement would be, would hit the phones and probably turn up at the event itself in the full knowledge of what they were about to hear. But even so, it wasn’t standard practice to sit down for the presser, having already devoted 16 pages of that day’s edition to every angle of the ramifications of the announcement that nobody had yet made.

Warnie’s closeness to the Packers means any career announcement was always likely to turn up on the network of his future post-cricket employer, and so it proved last night, leading to today’s morning papers and breakfast shows running rampant on Warnie tributes. Given the liberal use of past tense and the emotional tributes, you would swear the leg spinner was possibly in a casket and definitely not preparing to line up as usual for the next two Tests.

This was a particularly dramatic change of gear for the Fairfax broadsheets, by the way, given they had run a piece in yesterday’s sport section, quoting Warne’s mentor, Terry Jenner, who had “seen no signs that his pupil is wearying of Test cricket or that a swift and comprehensive Ashes victory has prompted the 37-year-old to ponder retirement.”

There goes Jenner’s reputation as a soothsayer. Or a potential sports journo.

A cricketing Christmas in Baghdad

Meanwhile, Christian Kerr writes:

They’re all good sports in Baghdad. The WWE circus has just been in town to salute the troops – but Crikey understands Our Boys are getting distinctively Australian Christmas presents. A thousand Boonie dolls have been donated as a token of the nation’s appreciation. There is, of course, a considerable body of evidence that the “talking” Boonies have not functioned as planned. Crikey readers can create their own metaphor around the Iraq deployment.

Peter Fray

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