On this day, in 2022, the untimely demise of Australian spin maestro Shane Warne at the age of 52 left the sporting world benumbed with shock and grief.
Over the course of a golden career, which saw him shatter several records in cricket and set his own, the legendary Australian leg-spinner wowed his fans as much with his flowing blonde mane as with his signature ‘flippers’ and sharp turners, left an impact on the gentleman’s game that is likely to stand the test of time.
It was June 4, 1993 at England’s Old Trafford. Warne, who had taken just 31 wickets in 11 Test matches up to that point, was preparing to deliver his first ball on English soil.
Mike Gatting, a stocky Middlesex batter and a part-time spinner, was fronting up to the Victorian. What followed, and a glut of bowling records thereafter, went a long way in shaping the legacy of the man, who also went by the nickname ‘Spin King’.
Warne sent down a ‘ripper’ that castled Gatting around his legs, leaving him dazed and bemused. Also called the ‘Ball of the Century’, that delivery has since been the stuff of folklore in the much-loved and followed sport.
That unforgettable moment in cricketing history was scriped by Warne, then a 23-year-old, in the first Test of the Ashes series at Manchester in 1993.
The ball landed wide of leg but spun sharply to knock back Gatting’s off-stump. The batter stood at the crease in utter disbelief and it took him a couple of minutes to process what happened.
Taking to Twitter, International Cricket Council (ICC) shared some pictures of the precious moment last year, with a post that read, “On this day in 1993, the world witnessed Shane Warne’s ‘Ball of the Century’.”
In the Manchester Test, Australia had scored 289 runs in the first innings and it was in England’s second vigil at the crease that Warne gave Gatting the shock of his life.
The legedary leg-spinner ended up with four wickets in the first innings and four in the second, for a combined haul of 8 wickets in the Test Australia won by 179 runs.
Warne passed away on March 4 after a suspected heart attack while vacationing in Thailand. One of the most loved and followed cricketers in history, the Victorian single-handedly reinvented the art of leg-spin when he burst onto the international scene in the early 1990s.
And, by the time he bid adiue to the sport in 2007, Warne had become the first bowler to collect 700 Test wickets.
Warne finished his international career with 708 Test wickets and a further 293 in One-Day Internationals, placing him second on the list of all-time international wicket-takers behind his great friend and rival Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka at 1,347.
Warne, known to his Baggy Green mates as ‘Warnie’, also captained Australia in 11 One-Day Internationals, winning 10 and losing just once.
- On Shane Warne's death anniversary, Sachin Tendulkar says he misses 'great friend'
- Warne: Cricket's 'box office' star, the people's champion
- Top Australian Test award renamed to honour Shane Warne