Shane Warne tragically passed away at the age of 52 on Friday. The Aussie great was on a holiday in Thailand when he died from a suspected heart attack at his villa. The passing away of the Warne sent shock waves across the cricket fraternity and tributes have been pouring in from all corners of the world for the legendary spinner, who ended a blistering international career with 708 Test wickets to his name.
The leg-spinner produced countless memorable performances for Australia and when he retired from the game in 2007, he was the highest wicket-taker in the longest format of the game. Warne was later eclipsed by long-term rival Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka, who ended his career with 800 wickets.
Warne may have left for heavenly abode on Friday, but his contributions to the game of cricket shall remain immortal in the memories of cricket fans across the world. As we remember the spin wizard from Australia, let’s take a look at his top-five performances:
‘Ball of the century’
It doesn’t need an introduction. Warne stunned batter Mike Gatting, the fans in the stadiums and at their homes, the commentators, and the entire cricket fraternity on June 4, 1993 when he bamboozled Gatting with an incredible delivery during the first Test of the Ashes series in Manchester. Incidentally, this was also his first ball on English soil.
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Warne castled Gatting with a delivery that had pitched wide outside of leg-stump and spun so sharply it struck the off-stump.
8/71 against England
It was the first Test of the Ashes series in Australia and the hosts had put a 508-run target for England to take an early lead in the series. The visitors had made a very strong start to the innings, ending day 4 on 211/2 as they looked in cruise control in the run-chase.
However, it all turned upside down for England as Warne ran through a formidable batting lineup, registering figures of 8/71 to help the Aussies seal a 184-run win. The hosts eventually clinched the series 3-1.
1999 World Cup
Shane Warne produced player-of-the-match performances in the semi-finals and the final of the 199 World Cup.
In a tense semi-final match against South Africa, Warne removed both openers Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs cheaply before dismissing captain Hansie Cronje on a duck. Just as Jacques Kallis was looking threatening with a half-century, Warne removed him on 53 as the game ended in a tie.
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In the final, Warne took another four wickets as Australia lifted their second World Cup title.
Australia might have lost the Ashes that year in England, but Shane Warne ended the series as its highest wicket-taker (40 dismissals). It was a significant performance as Warne, at 36, had dragged an underperforming Australian side and kept England on their toes throughout the series.
Warne’s performance came a year after he had faced one-year ban from international cricket for failing a drug test.
Adelaide masterclass and 700th wicket
During the second Test of the Ashes series in 2006, England were looking in prime position to draw the game after they trailed by 38 runs in the first innings. Warne, however, had other plans.
The leg-spinner first removed Andrew Strauss on 34, then combined with Michael Clarke in running Ian Bell out on 26 to shift the tide in Australia’s favour. Warne then dismissed Kevin Pietersen merely on 2, as England were bowled out on 129 in 73 overs. The leg-spinner registered figures of 4/49 in the game.
During the same series, which would also become Warne’s last international outing, the spin wizard became the first bowler in the history of the game to reach 700 Test wickets. He achieved the feat during the Melbourne Test, dismissing Andrew Strauss for the landmark dismissal.