How Shane Warne became Julie Bishops ‘lifeline’ in gang encounter

Mar 27, 2022
Julie Bishop remembers 'scary' moment Shane Warne's name saved her. Source: Getty Images

Julie Bishop has revealed how a minor “connection” to the late Shane Warne eased tensions with a gang leader in Zimbabwe during her time as Foreign Affairs Minister.

Bishop told The Project that the cricketing champion had a “great Australian character” whose influence went “way beyond Australia”.

Bishop was in Zimbabwe as an observer for the country’s official election in 2002, a time when farms were being taken over, often violently, due to land reforms.

She was put in a “scary” situation when she was asked to interview a particular gang in regards to their voting preference.

“It was the most rural, isolated part of Zimbabwe and there were some war veterans that had taken over a commercial farm and it was pretty scary,” Bishop said.

“I had to interview them about the election and the leader of this gang, you know, they were kind of like bikies, tatts and no teeth and chains around their necks and I was asking them how they were going to vote.

“The Leopard, he was their leader, he glared at me and said, ‘you British!’ and I thought, ‘whoops, here’s my moment’ and I said, ‘no, I’m Australian!’ and he looked at me and he looked at the others and he said, ‘Shane Warne!’

“I can tell you I’ve never been so relieved to hear Shane Warne’s name as I was then.

“He was my lifeline and apparently Warnie had played in Zimbabwe during the 90s and everybody there just fell in love with the great man.

“So his impact is way beyond Australia and I found time and time again that people would raise Shane Warne as part of the great Australian character.

“I found time and time again that people would raise Shane Warne as part of the great Australian character.”

Warne had been in Zimbabwe on his 22nd birthday for his first overseas tour in 1991 where he secured his first five-wicket haul in first-class cricket in the match, where Australia won the match 7-49.

Warne died of a suspected heart attack, at age 52, while holidaying on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand on March 4.

Tributes poured in from across the globe from fellow cricketers, celebrities and politicians alike.

A state memorial for Warne will be held in Victoria next Wednesday with more than 30,000 tickets already sold.


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