The man himself downplays his “ball of the century” by calling it “a fluke, because I never bowled it again!”
Let’s not kid ourselves. Shane Warne remains anything but a humble bloke. The Australian spin-bowling legend has always been larger than life, on and off the field. He has long been credited with making spin bowling, especially leg-spin bowling, fashionable again from the 1990s following a golden era of fast bowling in the previous decade.
You can still hear the ball “whirr” as he tossed it up and mesmerised you with his variations and subtle tricks. As a commentator and expert analyst, his forceful views prove to be either pinpoint-accurate or downright flippant, lacking in any basis.
Team-mates and commentators say that Warne was a gamechanger in the way he brought a fast bowler’s brand of aggression into spin bowling. “He had the ability to make the batsman always second guess himself,” says former England captain Andrew Strauss, also Warne’s 700th Test victim. “You were playing the man, and not the ball,” summed up commentator Mark Nicholas.
One of the interesting anecdotes from his childhood was how a freak leg injury forced him to use his hands more, which helped develop strong wrists to spin the ball. Like many suburban Australian kids, “footy” (Australian Rules Football) was his first love. But his AFL dreams went up in smoke when he was dropped by St. Kilda Football Club. He admitted he “wasn’t good enough” for the big league and he certainly didn’t fancy delivering beds and pizzas for too long. Footy’s loss was cricket’s gain.
The fear of rejection was to shape Warne’s future. After a horrible Test match debut against India, Warne was dropped. Fearing history was repeating itself, he sought help from former Australian spinner Terry Jenner. Warne showed up at Jenner’s estate, music blaring from the stereo, and the latter took one look at the chubby youngster from Melbourne with shoulder-length blonde hair, and said bluntly he had to get fit quickly.
Only a year later, the world took notice of Warne when he bowled that “ball of the century” that bamboozled Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993.
Warne humbly acknowledges he overstepped the line several times, and “paid the price for it and rightfully so”, dating back to his teens when he was sent home from the academy in Darwin for “mooning” (indecent exposure). Warne’s nickname “Hollywood” seemed to stick through his life. Though nowhere in the film does he explain why he happens to be a repeat offender.
The rivalry with Sachin Tendulkar and the nightmares the batsman caused him in the late 90s barely gets a mention. Tendulkar’s presence in the film however brings out a fun incident, when Warne had his mouth on fire after one bite of spicy chicken at Tendulkar’s Mumbai home!
Warne’s celebrated Test achievements and comebacks from surgeries and bans, but makes only sporadic mentions of his one-day career. Warne’s repeated transgressions cost him a full-time Australian captaincy, but we never get to hear his views or regrets on missing out on the top job.
Meanwhile, Warne’s cricketing acumen and leadership saw merit when he led the unfancied Rajasthan Royals to the IPL title in 2008
Shane had more to give to the world of Cricket, Shane had more fun left in him. Shaned never Warned us for this 🥲