|Celebrating another Ashes win in 2001|
Shane Warne changed cricket. Back in the day, sides battered you more in the 80's with the West Indian pace quartet giving you a good going over before getting you out. This type of cricket had dominated teams for years with Lillee and Thomson in the mid seventies, the next fifteen years with the Windies, and then even Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram in the early nineties. Shane Warne changed this.
Leg spinners were going out of fashion. The only decent one for years was the mercurial Abdul Qadir, a decent operator and an action of whirring arms. One of the hardest arts for any cricketer to master, leggies are known for the odd bad ball. Some, such as Ian Salisbury or Harvey Trump were known for more than the odd one, and leggies were seen as an expensive luxury. Again, Warne changed this.
Warne had the ability to turn the ball on almost any surface, was accurate and a master of his art. He would torment the English batsmen back in the nineties, let alone what he put poor Daryl Cullinan through! South Africa were also spellbound by the dyed blonde, earring sporting, Victorian.
He made leg spin the thing that kids wanted to do, and made it cool and sexy again. How he did it on a diet that consisted of mainly cheese toasted sandwiches I don't know, but what a player he was?
|Gatt...Ball of the Century!|
He arrived in the minds of us English, during the Test in Manchester in 1993, and with his first delivery in Ashes cricket proceeded to spin one the width of Mike Gatting, pitching miles outside leg stump and nick his off bail. Graham Gooch, who was England skipper at the time remarked, "He looked like someone had stolen his lunch", as the incredulous Gatt couldn't believe what had just happened. Not many people could spin it the width of Gatt! It really was the 'Ball of the Century'.
The one he did Andrew Strauss with in 2005 wasn't a bad delivery either!
Warne generally liked Old Trafford. Most spinners do, and even a young Mike Atherton was known to practice the art of leg spin there in his early career. In 2005 he picked up his 600th wicket, (Warne that is not Athers) when Marcus Trescothick was caught by Gilchrist and got forty wickets in that series at a shade over nineteen apiece. Warne was a ferocious competitor and ended up with over seven hundred Test wickets, over three thousand runs and a hundred and twenty five catches. Remarkable stuff.
A decent spinner is worth his weight in gold, and Michael Clarke must be wishing for one right now. Even if it wasn't the world class Warne, a Stuart McGill or a Tim May would do, still excellent spinners. Especially at Old Trafford.
Clarke can only hope and pray.