Shane Warne redefined spin bowling as never before among the greatest bowlers ever to play the game. Warne not only generated high spin off the pitch but was also tremendously accurate, which is hard to conquer for a leg-spinner. Even as he became the most potent bowling option in Australia, Warne was no mug with the bat, and his aggressive batting saved his team from pressure situations many times. Although Warne didn’t have the perfect athletic body, he was as agile as they came, and he was an intelligent fielder, especially in the slip cordon, where he snaffled up half-chances.
Warne made his international debut in 1992, having found it challenging in his initiation in Test colours and like most wrist spinners. Warne proved to be a fast learner and rose rapidly in the very next year, delivering what was called Mike Gatting’s ‘century shot’ in the Ashes series. Gatting wasn’t the only one to be deceived by a bag of tricks from Warne. All of these came with the Warne mark’s precision, which meant that batsmen had to go nowhere.
Although Warne enjoyed success against all teams, he most enjoyed bowling England and South Africa. 325 of his 708 Test scalps were brought against these two countries, and Warne made some bunnies out of their batsmen. Probably only India played Warne better, mainly because of Sachin Tendulkar who had a wood over the leg spinner since the 1998 series in India where Warne was smashed around the park. Few batsmen, however, could overpower Warne like that, and this is a testament to his excellence as a bowler.
Most people underestimated Warne’s batting, he had a relatively decent defensive game, and from a solid base, he also had a wide range of strokes. The incident of 2003 probably dug a hole in Warne’s ODI career as he had been banned for one year and could never really get his comeback going. After his retirement, Warne became involved with the lucrative Indian Premier League, guiding Rajasthan to a first edition title. This proved, once again, the fact that he was an inspiring leader. Life came a complete circle for Warne in 2018 as he was appointed Rajasthan coach in the IPL.
There might have been a couple of slip-ups, but Warne would always be among the best cricketers to grace the game.
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