Sadly we live in a world where the news rarely stops me in my tracks. The pandemic, various political scandals and the odd war here and there has numbed me to the breaking news alert that unwelcomingly pings onto my phone at increasing frequency.
But recently there was a short sentence that filled the top of my phone screen that made the world halt for a moment. ‘Former Australian cricket captain Shane Warne has died aged 52 of a suspected heart attack’.
A Great Gone Too Young
Surely not. But he was just on the TV. Yes, it was the Ashes and he was…fine?
These thoughts will have been shared by millions around the globe. It was the news that transcended cricket and sport itself. The following hours were a mixture of people saying ‘have you heard the news about Warne?’, even people that I know for a fact have never watched a game of cricket were talking about it.
52 is no age and the great man had so much to give. His awesome career, one which will take several volumes of detailed books to cover, was just the first chapter of his life. Since hanging up the boots Warne had become a household name for his work as a cricket pundit and larger-than-life personality. Someone that just loved life and being alive.
The Ball Of The Century
How to sum up his career? It’s best done without words and instead, that ball. Aptly named the ‘ball of the century’, Shane Warne’s delivery to Mike Gatting in the first Test of the 1993 Ashes series is one that will be replayed long after his life as well as yours or mine.
You simply can’t do what he did. Leg spin bowling was far from the most fashionable style of delivery at the time and plenty of deliveries were kicked away or met with a slog to score cheap runs while fielding teams deployed, often, a part-timer to give the quicks a rest. But this ball changed everything.
For those that haven’t seen it, and I refuse to believe that there are too many that haven’t, Warne ambled towards the crease and lofted a delivery that initially bounced many inches outside of Gatting’s leg stump.
Gatting, expecting some turn on the Old Trafford pitch, put forward his bat and leg to defend his stumps, as anyone would, but the ball evades his outside edge and takes with it Gatting’s off-stump. Gatting can’t quite believe what he’d seen as the Australians celebrate in a mixture of disbelief and delirium.
Career In Numbers
That delivery was far from conventional, and so was Warne. He was introduced to the Australian Test side in 1992 and quickly became a crucial part of a feared bowling attack that would see this Aussie side rise to the top of the game.
A 15-year Test career would see him take 708 wickets, placing him second in the record books behind Muthiah Muralidaran on 800, but it’s not numbers that made him one of the greats, it was the man himself.
Warnie The Superstar
In a way, Shane Warne was one of us. If I had graduated from a pub player to an international star of cricket, unlikely - I know, I like to think I would have been like Shane Warne.
Obviously not in the talent sense, but his love for the game and enjoyment for what he was doing was more relatable than any of the modern-day, sanitised sportsmen we watch.
Every match was a sheer joy for him and he took to the field in games of the highest importance and pressure as if he was on the village green with a few mates and that his biggest concern was what was on tap in the pub for after the match.
Warne’s love of life and his determination to play by his own rules often took him from the back pages to the front, with a number of scandals to his name that put him in the spotlight beyond cricket. But he was a man that knew he had one life and one incredible way to live it.
Unrivalled In The Commentary Box
A stellar career on the pitch was followed by a transition to the press box, where he became one of the most popular commentators and pundits on the circuit.
His laid-back attitude and appetite for having a laugh, coupled with his unrivalled insight of the game made him the stand-out name and an absolute joy to watch and listen to with the cricket on.
They don’t make them like Warne anymore. He was a sportsman that played by his rules, knew what he was good at and entertained millions with his craft. Shane Warne, you will be sorely missed.
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