Why the legend of Shane Warne will never grow old or be forgotten
“The problem is, there’s still a big kid inside me who likes to have fun. I am passionate about my cricket and I love my family. But I’m also a kid.. and maybe I need to grow up.. maybe I don’t,” said Shane Warne once upon a time about himself.
Though not many would any have known or guessed they there’d come a time where the man who described himself as a “kid” who should maybe grow up would become a king of the cricket world.
There are many who desire to play just one game at the international level so that they can be dubbed an international cricketer. Then there are those who wish to play the game for the strongest cricketing side there is.
But only a few manage to play the sport whilst ruling it for a time period as long as Warne did (145 Tests, 194 one dayers) and for the most powerful entity there could possibly be.
It’s one thing to be a lion in a jungle but something quite other to make your roar be heard loud and clear whilst playing with a pride of lions.
The Australian team Warne was an integral part of weren’t just extraordinary cricketers; they were wild preys out to get their hunt on every single occasion.
They didn’t just beat teams; they devoured them.
In Mark Taylor, Glenn McGrath, Ian Healy and Jason Gillespie and later, Matt Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Ricky Ponting and Steve and Mark Waugh, Shane Warne had awesome, world-beating teammates.
But, it was Shane Warne who shone the brightest. Out on the Australian galaxy of dazzling talents, it was Warne’s star that twinkled like few others could.
You could say, he was meant to rule.
And he did that whilst operating at a time where world cricket perhaps had the nastiest and most gruelling form of competition among the batsmen.
Long before the art of batting became hitting as one sees in the modern times and long before there was such a thing as a free hit or a power play, there was Shane Warne with his art of magical leg spin.
And he bowled to a brand of cricketers who weren’t merely his competitors; many of them have been christened and rightly so in the ICC Hall of Fame.
Warne bowled to Lara, Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, Anwar, Inzimam, Kallis, Cullinan, Kirsten, the Flower brothers and that wasn’t all.
Warne also competed against Atherton, Vaughan, Gibbs, Pollock, Guptill, McCullum, Pietersen, Gayle, Chanderpaul and Sarwan.
Yet, no batsman in particular apart from Lara and Sachin, on occasions, was able to master the man who was born to spin.
There are countless memories about Warne that hit the mind not just because September 13 used to be his birth anniversary; but because of the stature of the true competitor on the world cricket stage.
There’s the magical spinning delivery of ‘93. There’s the final Ashes series of 2005 in which Warnie, as he was fondly called, finished as the highest wicket taker.
Then there’s the magical spells of the ‘96 Wills World Cup and how the rights arm leg spinner teamed alongside Fleming and company to takedown South Africa in the 2003 World Cup semis.
Though, a thing about Warne can be said for certain. There are bowlers who are just meant to take wickets and those, who belong to an elite league, who do that with a sense of style.
Warne was the kingpin of this latter category.
No other spinner has been as respected as he’s also been considered a subject of envy.
Shane Warne’s career wasn’t just a testimony to his penchant for taking dollops of wickets; he finished his Australian journey with over 1,000 wickets, the second highest tally in the sport.
Rather interestingly, Warne’s career was about a maverick spinner and his instinct for domination.
The more one regarded that cricket was heavily influenced by batsmen, the more Warne would ensure that the ball would have its say.
The stronger his opponent would get, the tougher would Warne’s resolve become to dominate them.
What could illustrate this stand better than visiting his tally of Test wickets against prime opponents?
Versus england, Shane Warne captured 195 wickets whilst taking 130 against the Proteas and 103 against New Zealand.
You weren’t really at your best and nor could you drop your guard when you were up against Shane Keith Warne of Australia.
What’s rather fascinating is that despite prevailing over a career that spanned for (nearly) sixteen long years, one that featured episodes of wild, really reckless lifestyle that seldom followed the rules or dictum, Warne’s greatness never shrunk in size nor did the man recede to mediocrity on the field.
Yes, he had good and bad days. Yes, he wasn’t at his best in series’ such as the 2001 tour to India.
But Warne stayed true to the philosophy that the greats glitter in gloom. He would come back hard and haunt his opposite numbers the very next contest.
There was a sense of style, a sense of class and charisma about Shane Warne.
To this day, when the kid who doesn’t pick the bat but takes the hold of the ball begins his cricket from scratch, there’s talk of Warne and how might the Australian have had some possible impact on the youngster.
When we rewind to the video footage of the great Dane van Niekerk bowl, you can sense a bit of Warne in the action.
Shane Warne inspired generations and united his critics and fans in sheer awe.
Which is there may be a possibility of seeing some other truly talented spinner overtake Warne’s brilliant numbers but the legend of Shane Keith Warne shall never be forgotten.
Long live, Warne!