Maybe because his bowling was actually art.
Just ask Mike Gatting, the ‘solid’ English batsman and former captain, whom he threw his first ball on English soil in 1993 at Old Trafford, with what is now known as ‘The Ball Of The Century’ as the outside leg threw . stump and took bail.
Or Basit Ali, the poor man’s Javed Miandad, whom he kept waiting a few minutes before bowling the last ball of the day in Sydney in 1996, and probably theatrically discussing evening meals with Healy, before finally bowling and letting him bowl .
The dismissal caused even the erudite and normally politically correct Richie Benaud to exclaim with sarcastic innuendo: “You wouldn’t believe it. He put it between his legs”.
Shane Keith Warne, the man who made leg-spin bowling sexy again in the 1990s after Pakistani maverick Abdul Qadir did the same in the 1970s and 1980s, lighting up the cricket stage, courtesy of his arresting duels with legendary batsmen Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar , passed away on Friday after suffering a heart attack in Thailand.
Barely 12 hours before the 7pm Indian time news, he had tweeted his condolences as he mourned the death of another Australian great, wicketkeeper Rodney Marsh. Now, on the same platform, friends and detractors tweeted shocked about Warne’s death.
One of Wisden’s five cricketers of the 20th century, along with Vivian Richards, Don Bradman, Garfield Sobers and Jack Hobbs, Warne, if one could use euphemism, lived a colorful life.
If it wasn’t really sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, it sure would have been wickets, women, wine, bookies, cigarettes, betting, slimy texts and injudicious use of diuretics, the latter of which saw him kick him out of the 2003 World Cup. thrown . Throw in a can of 100 baked beans, which he raved about on his 1998 tour of India, trading flatulence in the gut for fizz and flies in his bowling.
Warne, the best captain Australia has never had, was divided on the choices he made off the pitch. But he also formed them. Rodney Hogg, the former Australian pacemaker, saw him bowl on his First Class debut for Victoria and predicted in his column that he will play 100 Tests and take over 500 Test wickets. He was “rewarded” with a bag for writing what the editor thought was nonsense. Ironically, the column was called De Waarheid.
Warne took 208 wickets more than Hogg had predicted and most of those 708 sticks were tactical masterclasses, almost worthy of standing on a chessboard, orchestrated by a grandmaster, where he recruited batsmen nearly two overs earlier for the eventual dismissal.
South African batsman Daryll Cullinan, who tormented Warne so much that he eventually sought therapy, was able to vouch for that. Kiwi wicketkeeper Adam Parore used it to his advantage in an ODI against South Africa. To excite a well-tempered Cullinan, he encouraged all-rounder Chris Harris by saying, “Come on, Warney,” only to watch Harris send Cullinan back the next ball. During a TV stint, Warne famously boasted to presenter and former Hampshire captain Mark Nicholas: “I don’t need a pitch to get him (Cullinan) out. The grass there is enough.”
That he had a sharp and witty tongue, a larger-than-life personality and a generous streak of rebellion made Warne the ratter of cricket and a headline. Through splits with skipper and teammate Steve Waugh and a deep-seated hatred of Coach John Buchanan’s training methods and team bonding sessions through boot camps, he often challenged the norm.
Warne has never believed in senior level coaching. Perhaps that explains why and how he inspired Rajasthan Royals, with a mix of low-key and little-known players, some of whom could barely speak English, to the inaugural IPL title. Trusting players like Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan, Swapnil Asnodkar. † † he did the unthinkable.
He even forged a working relationship for the Royals with Graeme Smith, the South African skipper, whom Warne had little or no respect for during his playing days. An incident from the 2005 series in Australia, where Warne walked right through a South African team while being accosted by Smith as he puffed away on a stump, best describes their relationship.
Warne was probably the most loved foreign player in India. Perhaps his friendship and rivalry with Tendulkar, the darling of billions, endeared him to the cricket-mad crowd here.
No wonder Tendulkar tweeted, “You always had a special place for India and Indians had a special place for you.”
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