Obituary: Shane Warne was cricket’s great showman and entertainer

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From his bleached blonde hair to his devastating bowling that made batters shake and shake, Shane Warne did things his way.

The great Australian cricketer died on Friday aged 52 of a suspected heart attack, according to a statement from his management team.

Warne took over 1,000 international wickets, including 708 Test wickets – second only to Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan – during his illustrious career and retired from cricket in 2013 as one of the greatest to ever practice this sport.

He was a leading figure in the dominant Australian side of the late 1990s and early 2000s, winning multiple Ashes series and the World Cup in 1999.

Allied to his dominance with the ball was his charismatic personality, which transformed Warne from cricketing star to global sports superstar.

“Warnie was an all-time great cricketer, a one-of-a-kind cricketer, and his records will live forever,” current Australia captain Pat Cummins said, dubbing Warne “King” in his statement.

“We all grew up watching Warnie, idolizing him, we all had posters on his wall, we had his earrings. What we loved so much about Warnie was his showmanship, his charisma , his tactics, the way he set himself and the team around him to make the teams around him win games for Australia, and above all his incredible skills as a leg- spinner.

“There are so many guys on this team and this team that still consider him a hero… favorite player of all time. The game was never the same after Warnie emerged and the game will never be the same after his passing.

“Rest in peace, king.”

Warne was not only a bowler capable of dominating matches almost single-handedly, he was also an entertainer, happy to joke around with English fans and often the subject of tabloid headlines.

While his first year as an international player gave some indication that he was destined for success, a single ball he bowled in Manchester in 1993 completely changed perceptions about the bowler.

Just a year after making his international debut in 1992, Warne was playing in his first Ashes series in England.

Adorned with his short, shiny blonde hair and brandishing his now-famous right arm bowling action, Warne produced a stunning performance in what was dubbed the ‘Ball of the Century’.

The delivery appeared to be heading for the stump of England striker Mike Gatting’s leg. Then he bounced down the field, spun dramatically and missed Gatting’s bat before surprisingly hitting the off-stump.

Like many others, Gatting appeared astonished that such an innocuous delivery had cost him his wicket – former England player Graham Gooch said: “He looked like someone had just smashed his lunch.”

Warne bowling during the Third Ashes test match against England at Old Trafford cricket ground on 4 July 1997.

Warne’s ability to steal and spin the ball to such devastating effect helped revive the leg-spin from a forgotten art into a key part of modern cricket.

“The highlight of my cricketing career was guarding the wicket for Warnie,” said Adam Gilchrist, Australia’s legendary wicketkeeper and longtime Warne teammate. wrote on Twitter.

“Best seat in the house to watch the maestro at work. I’ve often felt a bit selfish, that Heals and I are pretty much exclusively the only ones who’ve had this thrill and fun on Test level. Rip Warnie.

Other cricketing greats were quick to pay tribute to Warne’s remarkable talent.

“Shocked, Dumbfounded and Miserable” wrote Indian Sachin Tendulkar – widely regarded as one of the greatest hitters of all time.

“There was never a dull moment with you, on or off the pitch. I will always cherish our duels on the pitch and our banter off the pitch. You have always had a special place for India and the Indians had a special place for you.

“Gone too young!”

Former India international striker Virender Sehwag noted on Twitter: “One of the greatest spinners, the man who made spin cool, superstar Shane Warne is no more.

“Life is very fragile, but it is very difficult to understand. My sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans around the world. »

During his career which spanned more than 20 years, Warne won numerous trophies and accolades.

In Australia’s 1999 World Cup-winning side, Warne won the Man of the Match award in the final. He was named one of Wisden’s top five players of the 20th century, as well as being selected in an all-time Test World XI by Wisden to commemorate 150 years of the Cricketers’ Almanac.

Away from international cricket, Warne also played a pivotal role in shaping the Indian Premier League (IPL) into the giant it is today.

In 2008, he led the Rajasthan Royals to the inaugural IPL title, which he says gave the tournament “credibility because the underdog performed well”.

“To then go and win it in the style that we did, that put the IPL on the map. Any underdog story like that – you look at Leicester City, what they did. It’s a pretty incredible story,” Warne told CNN in 2019, referring to the football underdog’s remarkable Premier League title triumph in 2016.

“I was very lucky to play at a time in Australian cricket when we were very successful. We beat every team home and away, won World Cups, the Ashes series, so we have achieved tremendous results.

“Being part of all that with the Aussies and doing those things was great but the IPL was completely different.”

Warne poses for photos after speaking to the media at a Melbourne Stars Twenty20 Big Bash League announcement on November 8, 2011.

Warne played his entire domestic cricket career in Australia with his native Victoria, but had stints with Hampshire in England.

“Absolutely shocked and disgusted to hear about Shane Warne, wrote former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara. “Legend and friend. I just can’t believe it.

Former West Indies drummer Vivian Richards also noted on Twitter: “Amazing. I am deeply shocked. That can’t be true…Rest in peace, Shane Warne. There are no words to describe how I feel right now. A huge loss for cricket.



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