KEITH NEWBERY Beach-bum look has gone forever now Warnie’s been Hurleyed

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Shane Warne has long been feted as a true genius of cricket – and deservedly so.

He is the finest exponent of leg-spin the game has ever seen and it was once claimed his mastery of the dark art was so complete he could turn a billiard ball on an ice rink.

But he has now done something even more impressive – and turned himself into someone completely different.

Gone is the slightly tubby, grinning, tousle-haired larrikin of Aussie folklore; the sledger supreme, the man who revelled in his beach- bum reputation and would never knowingly avoid a good time.

In his place has emerged what appears at first sight to be a plasticine version of the original.

The highlighted hair (judiciously supplemented a few years ago) has been slicked down and brought under control.

The laughter lines – hard-earned after a lifetime devoted to playing cricket and partying at Bondi – have mysteriously disappeared.

The eyebrows have been what is known as ‘sculpted.’ It means they have been slightly elevated. As a result he wears the permanently surprised expression of someone who has just spotted an old friend across the other side of the room.

The eyes have been tilted slightly upwards (presumably to match the brows) and the chubby cheeks have been ironed out.

If he were to appear in an art gallery, the exhibit would be entitled ‘Former Australian cricket legend, created by Elizabeth Hurley, based on an original idea by Mr and Mrs Warne sr’.

Forget Wayne Rooney’s recent act of tonsorial desperation, cricketers have long been regarded as the vainest sportsmen.

Geoff Boycott invested in a hair transplant at the same time as entertainer Russ Abbott back in the 80s, and both men emerged with a collection of cranial tufts which evoked much cruel amusement.

Graham Gooch then made a post-Test career out of his receding locks, appearing in a string of advertisements extolling the virtues of his particular refoliating treatment.

Watch England’s batsmen when they remove their helmets at the end of every innings. Their first act is to fluff up their hair lest we should think they are succumbing to any Gooch-like symptoms.

But Warne has taken things on to a new level. He has been well and truly Hurleyed – and will never seem the same again.