Tuesday , July 5 2022

Shane Warne, Australia’s legendary legspinner, dies aged 52

Shane Warne, one of cricket’s all-time greats, has died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 52.

Warne, who was named as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Century, claimed 708 Test wickets in a 15-year career for Australia between 1992 and 2007, and was also an ODI World Cup winner in 1999.

According to a brief statement given to Fox Sports by Warne’s management, he passed away in Thailand of a suspected heart attack.

“Shane was found unresponsive in his villa and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived,” the statement read.

“The family requests privacy at this time and will provide further details in due course.”

The shocking news comes hours after the death of another icon of Australian cricket, former wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, who also suffered a heart attack earlier this week at the age of 74.

“Warney”, as he was known throughout the cricketing world, was without question one of the true icons of world cricket, a man who almost singlehandedly revived the art of legspin in the early 1990s.

Although luminaries such as Pakistan’s Abdul Qadir had kept the art alive, Warne brought a new glamour and attacking intent to legspin, with his bottle-blond hair allied to a keen tactical brain that he used to outfox a host of unwitting opponents in his pomp.

After an underwhelming debut against India in January 1992, where his solitary wicket came at a cost of 150 runs, Warne hinted at his full potential in bowling Australia to an unlikely victory over Sri Lanka in Colombo, before – in his fifth appearance – he ripped out seven match-winning second-innings wickets against West Indies at his home ground of Melbourne in the 1992-93 Boxing Day Test.

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Ian Chappell, Mark Nicholas and Gideon Haigh look back to that magical delivery

However, it was the 1993 Ashes tour that truly cemented Warne’s legend. In the opening match of the series at Old Trafford, and having been shielded from England’s batters during the preceding one-day series, Warne’s first delivery left the sport dumbfounded as he served up the so-called “ball of the century” to Mike Gatting – a drifting, dipping, spitting legbreak, that turned a full two feet from outside leg to hit the top of off.

Gatting was so confused, he did not initially realise he had been bowled – and in that moment, Warne exerted a hold over England’s batters that was so absolute, they would not come close to reclaiming the Ashes for another 12 years. And even when they did, in the seismic summer of 2005, Warne’s fingers were the last to be prised from the urn, as he carried Australia’s attack with a career-best haul of 40 wickets.

Away from the cricket field, Warne could not help but court controversy. He was rarely far from the front pages of the tabloids amid a string of revelations about his personal life. In 1995, both he and his then team-mate Mark Waugh were fined AUD 15,000 for giving information to an Indian bookmaker during the previous year’s tour of Sri Lanka.

In 2003, on the eve of that year’s World Cup, Warne was suspended from international cricket for a year after a banned diuretic was found during a routine drugs test – he claimed it had been given to him by his mother to help him lose weight.

However, though that setback might have ended lesser careers, the year away from the game arguably gave Warne an extra lease of life going into his mid-30s. He returned to action with four five-wicket hauls in a row to lead Australia to a memorable 3-0 series win in Sri Lanka in March 2004, and then played a quietly crucial role in their subsequent “final frontier” victory in India.

He retired from international cricket with typical showmanship in the 2006-07 Ashes, leaving the field arm-in-arm with his long-term bowling ally Glenn McGrath after reclaiming the Ashes with a 5-0 whitewash – the first that Australia had inflicted on England since 1920-21. His personal contribution had been 23 wickets, including his 37th and final five-for – fittingly enough in front of his Victorian faithful at the MCG.

Even at the age of 37, the Warne legend was not done. In 2008, he was recruited by Rajasthan Royals to captain their franchise in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League, and duly delivered the title with 19 wickets at 21.26 in the course of the campaign. Though he went wicketless in the final against Chennai Super Kings, he couldn’t be kept out of the action, as he and Sohail Tanvir sealed the victory with the bat in a thrilling final-over finish.


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