Cricket World will be a Little Duller after Death of Shane Warne

Two cricket balls stand out above the rest in the last half-century. One was an embarrassingly wide opening to an Ashes series from England’s Steve Harmison in 2006, and the other was a work of genius from Shane Warne.

He landed the ball outside England captain Mike Gatting’s leg stump at the age of 23; spinning and dipping, it turned off the pitch and flew past the astonished batter, smashing his off stump.

In 1993, at Old Trafford in Manchester, it was Warne’s first ball in a test match in England. It took tremendous levels of talent and charm to develop a career that matched that opening and the buzz it generated. Both were in Warne’s possession.

He had the air of someone who had walked straight from the Bondi waves to the cricket field, probably pausing for a few of tinnies along the way. Perhaps the most moving tribute came from India’s Sachin Tendulkar, who said, “There was never a dull moment with you around, on or off the field.”

He was not pleased with everything. Womanizing, drinking, a narcotics restriction, and a fine for stealing money from a bookmaker are all on the table. He was one of those rare athletes that was recognized everywhere he went, even outside of football, and he was generous with his time.

When he fell off the rails, he dragged himself back and built a career as a respected media performer. But it was all built on his uncommon talent and strong competitiveness over the course of 15 years of test cricket.

He reintroduced the glamour of spin bowling, particularly leg spin. It cost more than a thousand international wickets. His bowling fingers were broken, and he needed surgery on his right shoulder, reports Sky News.

But, as many an England bowler discovered to their chagrin, he could bat as well, and he had big, safe hands at slip, as well as being a clever captain. A short run-up, a ripping bowling action, a ball fizzing through the air with an impossible amount of revolutions, an expectation that something would happen, perhaps an outrageous plea to the umpire are all things that come to mind when thinking of Warne bowling.

The cricketing world will be a little duller, a lot quieter now that he’s gone, but he’ll be remembered for so many vivid recollections of a career – and a life – lived to the fullest.

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