In the last half-century of cricket, two balls are remembered before all others. One, starting an Ashes series, embarrassingly deviated from England’s Steve Harmison in 2006, and the other was a magic thing from Shane Warne.
23 years old, blond hair falling down, he landed the ball outside the stump of England captain Mike Gatting’s leg; spinning and diving, he extinguished the pitch and passed the dazed batter, hitting his stump.
It was Warne’s first pitch in an England Test match in 1993 at Old Trafford, Manchester.
To build a career worthy of this openness and the hype it generated required exceptional levels of talent and personality. Warne had both.
He looked like someone who had wandered out of the Bondi waves and onto the cricket ground to wreck another round in England, most likely stopping for a few minutes along the way.
Of the deluge of tributes from the big names in cricket, it was perhaps India’s Sachin Tendulkar who said it best: “There was never a dull moment with you around, on or off the field. »
He wasn’t proud of it all. Wrath, alcohol, drug ban, fine for taking money from a bookie.
One of those rare sportsmen – especially outside football – to be recognized wherever he goes, he is no less generous with his time.
He dragged himself back when he went off the rails and carved out a career as a respected media entertainer.
But it was all built on his rare talent and fierce competitiveness in over 15 years of Test cricket.
He made spin bowling glamorous again – the leg spin in particular.
More than a thousand international counters had a cost. His bowling fingers were destroyed and his right shoulder required surgery.
But he could also hit, as many English bowlers found to his frustration, and he had big, sure sliding hands, and was a shrewd captain.
To see Warne play in the spirit is to observe a short acceleration, a ripping bowling action, a ball fizzing through the air with an improbable number of revolutions, an expectation that something would happen, perhaps a wild call to the referee.
Now that he’s gone, the world of cricket will be a little duller, a lot calmer, but with so many vivid memories of a career – and a life – lived to the full.
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Shane Warne: The world of cricket will be a little duller after the death of the leg-spinning legend who lived his life to the fullest | News from around the world – News 24