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Shane Warne: Australian leg-spin legend

Updated on July 7, 2011
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Shane Warne was not just a colourful personality in cricket. He was one of those sportsmen who was renowned for his on-field exploits as much as hiss off-field exploits. However, his contribution to cricket goes beyond his record-setting 708 Test wickets.

 

Warne revitalised and redefined the dying art of leg-spin. His excellent control, guile, variations and ability to turn the ball square on many pitches made him an excellent attacking option who could also contain batsmen.

 

The chubby leggie from Victoria could have done what he wanted with a cricket ball. The Aussie leg-spinner could bowl the leg-break, googly and flipper. Before Warne, leg-spin had gone through a dark era. There were few true exponents of the art, with only Pakistan's Abdul Qadir keeping the flame flickering between 1977 and 1993. Warne took the flame from Qadir and set the cricket world alight. Indisputably, he is the best leg-spinner of all-time; some might argue that he is the best spinner of any kind.

 

Ball of the century

Career highlights

 

World records: Most Test wickets

Warne was the first bowler to take 600 wickets. He even went one better, becoming the first man to 700 as well. Warne briefly held the record for most Test wickets, before being overtaken by Sri Lankan offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan. He ended with 708 Test wickets.

Ball of the century

The Ashes is the most cherished iconic series in world cricket, and Warne chose to make an unforgettable mark with his first ball on English soil in 1993. Warne stated that he was nervous - given the auspicious nature of the series. Warne bowled a delivery that pitched outside of Mike Gatting's leg stump, turned a mile and knocked his off-stump. Gatting didn't even know what happened.

 

Shane Warne: Portrait of a Flawed Genius
Shane Warne: Portrait of a Flawed Genius

This fascinating and thorough biography draws on interviews with Warne and many of his teammates and opponents to tell the entire story of his life and career. On the heels of Warne's retirement from Test cricket with a record 708 victims to his name, this unique retrospective looks at cricket's famed enigma, showman, and genius.

 

Shane Warne battering Andrew Symonds

Warne the batsman

 

Warne was no rabbit with the bat. In fact, he was a capable lower-order batsman, coming in at Number 8 in a strong Aussie batting line-up. The leggie almost scored a Test century (99), just missing out against New Zealand at Perth in 2001. Warne had four Test half-centuries over 85 - among 12 Test fifties. His Test batting and First-class averages suggested unrealised potential with the willow.

 

Batting records

Match type 
Matches 
 Runs
High score 
Average 
100s 
50s 
Test 
145 
3154 
99 
17.32 
0
12
ODI
194 
1018 
55 
13.05 
First-class 
301 
6919 
107* 
19.43 
26 
List A 
311 
1879 
55 
11.81 
Twenty20 
58 
210 
34* 
9.54 
Source: Cricinfo

Shane Warne bamboozling Andrew Strauss

Bowling records

 

There are not enough superlatives to describe the bowling of Shane Warne. Warne's combination of control, variation and guild yielded many wickets; he was a match-winner in all forms of the game. While many of his best deliveries came in Test matches, he has a fantastic record in limited-overs games as well. Leg-spinners are expected to be expensive wicket-takers, but Warne usually kept batsmen quiet until he got their wicket. In ODIs, his economy rate was just 4.25, yet he took a wicket every 36 balls.

Bowling records

Match type
Matches
Wickets
BBI
BBM 
Avg 
 Economy
Strike rate
Test 
145 
708 
8/71 
 12/128
25.41 
2.65
57.4 
ODI 
194 
293 
5/33 
5/33 
25.73 
4.25 
36.3 
First-class 
301
1319 
8/71 
 
26.11 
2.76 
56.7 
List A 
311 
473 
6/42 
6/42 
24.61 
4.25 
34.7 
Twenty20 
58 
59 
4/21 
4/21 
25.79 
7.21 
21.4 
Source: Cricinfo

 

Warne was as famous as he was infamous. Explicit texts, the 2003 ban for a poisitive drug test and the loss of the Australian vice-captaincy before that were low-lights of his career. In addition, the portly leggie had regular run-ins with the authorities. He even referred to former Aussie coach John Buchanan's training camp as a boot camp. While the leg spinner's off-field antics have garnered headlines throughout his career, his on-field exploits would take precedence in the memories of fans - even fans who did not love him.

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