Those of us who came of age in the 1990s grew up idolising Shane Warne. He was everything we longed to be – outrageously talented, immensely successful, shrewd & outspoken, constantly smoking and drinking when not on the cricket field and a bit of a ‘ladies man’ – but couldn’t be given our middle class Indian roots. As we bid goodbye to one of the modern masters who lit up our lives, we celebrate his phenomenal achievements on the cricket field along with the broader impact he had on the world that he lived in:
“Warne was the first to reach 700 Test wickets, a milestone that once seemed unfathomable. But judging Warne on statistics alone is like assessing Shakespeare based on how many plays he wrote. It misses the point. Warne was one of the few people who truly changed their chosen art. When he arrived, legspin was a dying skill. He single-handedly revolutionised it, made it popular, and weaponised it.
In the hands of Warne, legspin was a danger the likes of which cricket hadn’t seen before. When he stood at the top of his mark, adjusting the field, ripping the ball from one hand to another, intimidating the batter through the power of his aura, anything could happen. He could bowl the world’s best batters around their legs, or squeeze out a flipper to trap them in front, or deceive them with drift and drop.
When he bowled, you watched. You didn’t have the cricket on in the background while doing the vacuuming or catching up on your paperwork. Warne bowled every delivery with intent, so you watched with intent. Spin bowlers are the illusionists of cricket. Their art is sleight of hand. But no matter how closely you watched Warne, you could never work out how he did what he did. You just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
Just as important as his immense skill was his charisma. His apparently unwavering confidence. He believed he could take a wicket with every ball and he projected that belief so strongly that viewers and opponents believed it too.”
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