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Shane Keith (Warnie) Warne (1969–2022)

by Peter Lalor

from Australian

Shane Warne

Shane Warne

He took the wicket of Ravi Shastri but by then the Indian had made 206 and the Australian left the field that day with his tail between his legs and the figures of 1-150.

Warne’s skill, confidence and dominance emerged slowly, but he got into his stride as a Test player and by the time he retired in 2007 he was the biggest name in world cricket with the possible exception of Sachin Tendulkar.

Warne, however, was a showman. He loved the spotlight. When he stood at the top of his mark twirling the ball in his large hands he was like a conjurer. He hypnotised batsman, he infatuated crowds.

He brought a bit of showbiz to the ancient art. Where fast bowlers had long dominated the stage, he made the slower craft cool.

Wrist spin was a lost art before he came along, but he made life as uncomfortable for those who followed him as he did for opposition batters because nobody could match his feats.

He was a magician, he could produce rabbits from hats, flowers from canes.

Warne announced himself with his first delivery in an Ashes Test in England.

His hair a shock of blonde, his ear pierced, his run up slow, he wandered in and produced a delivery to Mike Gatting that was almost shocking in its brilliance.

The batsman had no idea what had happened, commentators and the crowd rubbed their eyes in disbelief.

It became knows as the Ball of the Century, plenty of deliveries have made a bid for that title ever since but none could dethrone Warne’s.

Richie Benaud was, appropriately, in the commentary box looking down on the man who would bring back that attacking, indomitable spirit with which he had played. And take it to another level.

He loved the big moments.

When Australia was flagging in the second semi final of the 1999 World Cup he bowled Herschelle Gibbs with a ball that pitched outside leg and hit the top of off to make the first break through.

He stood among his teammates screaming “come on, come on!” like a preacher urging his flock to have faith, but still they seemed unsure.

When he bowled Gary Kirsten through the gate soon after they started to believe. He finished with 4-29 and Australia tied the critical match to go through to the final which they won.

Warne left the SCG on January 5 2007 with another giant, Glenn McGrath, the picture of the emotional pair leaving the historic venue is one every fan knows.

The pair had made their own history and had gone out winners, their team winning that series in a 5-0 white wash.

In the preceding Ashes he’d battled through the devastation of his recent marriage break up, often spending late nights crying in his room, comforted by his young mate Micheal Clarke, but by day he was enormous.

He defied his personal grief and contributed with the bat and took 37 wickets in that hard fought series.

Warne joked his life was crafted by a script writer. He was involved in so many affairs, incidents and excesses. He dated the movie star Liz Hurley and befriended international musicians.

There were drug bans and brushes with bookies, but Warne seemed to shake everything off. He kept his head up and never seemed to know self doubt.

It was only natural he would be the subject of a musical and a movie of his life was released earlier this year.

When his career on the field was done he moved into the commentary box where he worked for Fox Cricket in Australia and Sky in the UK.

He was named one of the Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Century in 2000 and was the only specialist bowler in the group.

Warne is survived by daughters Brooke, 24, and Summer, 20, and his son Jackson, 22, who he shares with ex-wife Simone Callahan.

Original publication

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Citation details

Peter Lalor, 'Warne, Shane Keith (Warnie) (1969–2022)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 June 2024.

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