Shane Warne is widely regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of his era. His infamous “Ball of the century”, getting England captain Andrew Strauss bowled round the legs, his flippers and his off-the-field antics, all made him a true entertainer and an icon worthy of the highest praise. Today, on his birthday, let's remember what made him perhaps the greatest spinner of all times.
Debut vs india
Warne made his debut against India in January 1992 at the Sydney cricket ground. He was an inexperienced bowler facing the likes of Ravi Shastri and Sachin Tendulkar. After posing forgettable figures of 1/150 in that test match and going wicketless in the next, he was dropped from the team. Still, he kept on improving and was selected again for the tour of Sri Lanka.
It was Sri Lankan tour that he found some success when he bundled last 3 Sri Lankan batsmen to lead Australia to an unlikely 16-run win, prompting Sri Lankan captain. He eventually cemented his place in the Australian cricket team when he took 7/52 in the second innings against the West indian side.
The flippers and odd balls
Had Warne simply continued to bowl leg-spinners, batsmen would have eventually figured out how to play him (like Sachin Tendulkar did) but he kept kept on evolving his technique. His flippers and odd balls often baffled well set batsmen and kept them guessing every time Warnie came out to bowl.
Spinners usually did not sledge as it was hardly effective. Batsmen were unlikely to be scared of spin bowlers. However, with the wizardry of Warne, this changed completely. He was famous for telling batsmen exactly what he was going to bowl and still get them out. In your face!
Shane Warne never backed away from challenging situations. A big example is the 1999 World Cup Semifinal against South Africa. The latter need just 213 to win and were expected to get there easily. But Warne led the fight from the front and grabbed first two wickets in quick succession. He would finish that match with 4/29, and later went on to get 4/33 in the final to help Aussies win the cup.
2003 drug test
Warne led a turbulent life off the field and one big blotch on his career was a failed drug test just before 2003 World Cup. He was sent home and was made to serve 1 year ban. Nevertheless, he made a great comeback following his ban with his Ashes performance being particularly special.
2005 & 2006 Ashes
In 2005 Ashes in England, the Australian team lost 1-2 and were largely outplayed by the English. One man, however, stood out with 40 wickets in total and doing everything he can for team. In the following year, Australia regained the Ashes with Warnie fittingly grabbing the last wicket and making a statement that he was still a force to reckon with.
700th wicket and retirement
Warne became the first bowler to bag 700 test wickets when he got the wicket of Andrew Strauss at his home ground MCG. He would go on to finish his career at a record 708 test wickets (later eclipsed by Muthayya Muraleedharan) and forever cementing his place as one of the greatest to have played this game.
Title image: MCG