Shane Warne's 10 most iconic moments - From 'ball of the century' to sweet revenge for Australia in the Ashes
We look back at the 10 most iconic moments of the career of cricket's best ever spin bowler, Shane Warne. The Australian legend passed away on Friday aged 52 of a suspected heart attack. The iconic and hugely popular leg-spinner died at his villa in Thailand. Warne was a superstar for Australia between 1992 and 2007 and a true great of the sport.
'Shane Warne was a massive idol of mine, it has shocked us all' - England captain Root
Second Test v West Indies - Melbourne Cricket Ground, 30 Dec 1992
Before those of us in the Northern Hemisphere had seen him, he had already sown his legend. After getting a pasting in his debut from Ravi Shastri and co on his way to 1-150 he licked his wounds, but on his home pitch, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where he would produce so many memorable moments and have a statue built in his honour, he gave the first illustration of the generational talent on show. Figures of 7-52 in the fourth innings succumbing West Indies to a total of 219 tell their own tale, but it was the dismissal of Richie Richardson which started the demise and lingered longest in the memory, bamboozling the best batsman in the world at the time with a 'wrong un' leaving him plumb leg before. For a decade and a half, the West Indies had dominated Australia and the rest of the world. They have not beaten Australia since, and it was no coincidence the turn came upon Warne's arrival.
For many of a certain generation, this was where it started. Needless to say, there was no internet at this time. Even most big cricket fans had not seen him in action. We had read about this cricketer with beach-blonde hair and diamond stud earring. A cricketer. And his skills were even more unworldy. His first ball in the oldest sporting contest in the world, drifted wildly beyond leg stump, then spun back viciously, beating Mike Gatting and clipping his leg stump. The 'Ball of the Century'. His life would never be the same again. And nor would cricket. Welcome to the Shane Warne show. It would never be anything but compulsive viewing.
Second Test v South Africa - Sydney Cricket Ground, 2 January 1994
After the ball shown around the world, Warne gained an aura, and didn't he know it. And did he make full use of it. As anyone who shook hands with him and saw theirs shrink in his giant grasp will attest, he had physical gifts which helped him get to the top, but his total belief as being 'the man in the arena' made him stay there. He lived in the minds of many of the best batsmen in the world over the next 14 years. The first was Daryll Cullinan. Like Mike Gatting before him, he was one of his side's best players of spin prior to facing Warne. In this first instance, he set him up beautifully, bowling a leg break outside off stump which Cullinan confidently hit down the ground, then the South African went to hit an identical-looking ball to the same place but was beaten by the 'wrong un' and bowled through the gate. Things never got better for Cullinan against Warne, and the next meeting after he foolishly admitted seeing a sports psychologist to deal with his issues against the spinner, saw him receive the greeting: "Daryll, I’ve waited so long for this moment, and I’m going to send you straight back to that leather couch."
Boxing Day Test hat-trick
Second Test v England - Melbourne Cricket Ground, 29 December 1994
By the time the Old Enemy visited the southern hemisphere at the end of 1994, Warne was bigger than the series itself. At this time, despite being the most exposed star in the sport, he also retained an air of mystery. So in awe were the England batsmen that they took to watching him from the top of the stands through binoculars to work out his variations of deliveries. Maybe his favourite Test moment was back at his own MCG. He had tilted the Test heavily in Australia's direction with six wickets in the first innings on Boxing Day, and in the second innings England were on their way to defeat without any input from the 'Spin King'. He wasn't having this. He dismissed Phil DeFreitas leg before, Darren Gough nicked behind and then his good friend 'the keg on legs' David Boon caught Devon Malcolm at short leg.
The Australian players celebrate as spinner Shane Warne takes the third wicket of his hat trick, that of English tailender Devon Malcolm, on the fourth day of the Second Test between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
Image credit: Getty Images
Fifth Test v England - Trent Bridge, 10 August 1997
If he was just a cricketer it would have been more than enough. But he was also the most charismatic sportsman of his time. He hated the intrusion into his private life, but he also could not help but play up to the image of the Aussie larrikin. It shouldn't be forgotten Warne was the man of the series in his second Ashes tour, but more than any ball what is remembered is his dance on the balcony. It epitomised the love-hate relationship much of the Australian public had with their greatest sportsman. With Australia sealing a series victory, Warne revelled in the celebrations of the travelling and ex-pat contingent of Australian fans on the ground below. Jumping on a chair and leading the chanting before performing a circular grinding dance while holding a cricket stump aloft. Not the done thing, and it brought about criticism for uncouth behaviour. There were bigger scandals to come - the revelation in 1998 he had received money from a bookmaker in 1994, and a year's suspension for taking a diuretic, which can act as a drug masking agent, but with him was apparently due to vanity reasons, borrowed from his mother to reduce his double chin.
Stopping crowd trouble
Australia v England, One-Day International, Melbourne Cricket Ground - 15 January 1999
The Melbourne Cricket Ground had three great heroes in the last half-century. Dean(o) Jones the quicksilver, flamboyant batsman, Merv Hughes the bristling-moustachioed, intimidating fast bowler. And Warnie. Bay 13 could be notorious for poor behaviour, and in this One-Day international they were throwing cans on the field, leading England players to take cover and the umpires to stop play. Enter Warnie, the captain for the day, from the dressing room to run over to the crowd to instruct them to stop. They bowed as one in adoration of their king, obeyed his wishes to stop pelting the 'Poms' and broke out into the famous "Warne-y" chant.
Rumours of demise unfounded
Australia v South Africa, World Cup semi-final, Edgbaston - 17 June 1999
If Shane Warne's career had ended in 1999 after his second shoulder operation, he would have still been regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of all time. It is easy to forget how tenuous his career seemed at this time. He was dropped for the only time of his career for the final Test in the West Indies prior to the World Cup (something he could never forgive captain and former close friend Steve Waugh for) and his confidence remained low going into the semi-final with South Africa. Chasing an under-par 213, South Africa were cruising at 48-0 when Warne was thrown the ball. No longer feared as he had been before, he had to produce something special. He did. Of almost Gatting proportions, beating Herschelle Gibbs and clipping his off stump. Australia would go on to win on a count-back with the scores level in dramatic fashion. Warne would go on to be man of the match in the final, and his legend rode on. He would soon afterwards be named one of the five cricketers of the century.
Steve Waugh and Shane Warne, proudly display the World Cup trophy on their return home with the Australian team after their victory over Pakistan in the 1999 Cricket World Cup Final at Lords Cricket Ground
Image credit: Getty Images
Last man standing
Fifth Test v England, The Oval - September 12 2005
The greatest summer of cricket these shores have, or probably ever will, see were only so memorable because of the performance of Warne. No longer with a great variety of balls, still his control and mastery of the England batsmen was rarely greater. While his team-mates only spasmodically showed their best form, Warne was superb throughout, snaring 40 wickets. His dismissal of Andrew Strauss was one to remember. Looking to block a ball with his leg way outside off stump, he was beaten and the ball clipped the leg stump. It was the cruellest irony that he would be the man to ensure the Ashes were lost when he dropped Kevin Pietersen before lunch on the final day of the series. As he fielded on the boundary, the crowd who had seen Australia destroy their team for over a decade sang 'We only wish you were English'.
Revenge is sweet
Fourth Test v England, Melbourne Cricket Ground - December 26 2007
In what would be his last Test series, Warne was fantastic throughout and his 4-49 from 32 overs in the second Test in Adelaide led to a disintegration from a dominant position for England. Once again, the MCG was the scene of the most dramatic dismissal as he became the first man to take 700 wickets with a dipping ball as Strauss looked to come down the wicket to him. He ran a big circle in celebration with one of the MCG's biggest roars as the backdrop. He would bow out after the next Test, having helped Australia to their first 5-0 whitewash in 86 years.
Calling his shot
Melbourne Stars v Brisbane Heat - Woollongabba Cricket Ground - December 20 2011
Fans were treated to more years of Warne in the IPL, as he finally got a chance to fulfil his captaincy potential as he led Rajasthan Royals to victory in the second tournament, before he returned to play for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash on home soil. The Gabba had always been a happy ground for him, but there was no more memorable occasion than when he talked the commentators through his tactics against Brendan McCullum, as dangerous a Twenty20 hitter as there was in the game at that time. "He might try to sweep me so I'll just slide one through." He did just that, bowling the future New Zealand skipper. Wherever he played he was the star turn. He was a regular presence in cricket coverage in England and Australia over the next 10 years. While his pleasure at his own banter could grate, he was always worth listening to for the gems of insight he could provide, especially when it came to his beloved art of leg spin.