Gutsy, quick and courageous. Leg spin is an art, and no artist does it better than Warne. Time used to stand still when he bowls. A short walk, a gentle leap and the ball go in a flash to hit the pitch hard, turning and knocking the batters. This was Warne’s routine, and his daily work was to make the batters his bunny. He insulted major cricketers in the world even during their prime. ‘
In the era where people used to pay to watch the batters take on bowlers, Warne was one of the very few cricketers who kept the fans coming for him.
June 1993. Warne was a rookie. The number of his Tests just got into the double-figures, and he was averaging pretty normal somewhere around 31 with the ball. A disappointment after early promise. He couldn’t satisfy the amount of hype that was around him.
The Old Trafford was waiting to witness things which were about to change. First Ashes Test.
Australia showed faith in Warne and he was the lone spinner in the team. Gatting, possibly the best player against the spin, was taking guard. He was expected to destroy rookie Warne. The question was how many runs Gatting was going to score.
Warne walks, leaps and bowls. The ball at first acted all innocent, drifting towards the leg side. At that very moment, the ball looked like lemon and deserved to be hit as it drifted further, thanks to Magnus effect. Gatting wasn’t ready to hit though. He wanted to defend, lunges forward. He locks his shoulders. As the ball hits the blind spot, it turns past Gatting and clips the off-stump bails. Gatting was cheated. The ball made him look like a fool before a packed crowd. As Ian Healy goes up, Gatting was sure that Healy knocked off the bails but he didn’t. Gatting had to walk back.
This moment, this very moment became the starting point, the threshold Warne needed for his career. The delivery was something different. It was accurate, jaw-droppingly beautiful. What makes it even more special is that it was the first ball of the first spell of his first Ashes Test. It was a beautiful tribute to the wrist spin that was close to defunct at that time. He revived the art, became the master of it.
When Warne was at his peak, he was as aggressive as the pacers but was even more stylish and ruthless. His technique and his accuracy still stand apart, a masterpiece. Whenever the win looked like a lost destination from Australia, Warne stood up. Whenever Australia needed wickets or reduce the runs, Warne stood up.
You cannot put Warne’s achievements in words because on papers Warne’s achievement looks normal. Australia did win matches without Warne, he had bad times as well, but things are different when you either watch or visualize it. In the pacers- dominated Australian side, Warne slowly drilled hole to build a home in the team. This probably is his biggest achievement than all those fifers and performances.
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