Shane Warne: The King of Spin and a Maverick

Sumit GuptaContributor IMarch 10, 2012

Never been any fitter than he is now
Never been any fitter than he is nowMark Kolbe/Getty Images

Leg-spin is not only about skill; it is like an art, and like all work of artists, watching him bowl is always a treat to watch.

When he begins to "walk" his short run up, it is marked by the ball being tossed from the right hand to the left by those artful wrists. With eyes and mind focused on the plan, the ball is released from his hands towards a batsman who is confused about the flight, the dip, the speed and the amount of turn the ball will take after pitching.

Gideon Haigh, the Australian journalist, said of Warne upon his retirement:

“It was said of Augustus that he found Rome brick and left it marble: the same is true of Warne and spin bowling.”

Though known mostly for his 708 wickets in Test cricket, he was also highly effective in ODIs, with his twin Man of the Match awards in the semifinal and final matches being instrumental in handing Australia the World Cup in 1999. He was something with the bat, having the highest number of runs without a century with two 90+ scores under his belt. He was also a successful slip fielder, and stands seventh in the list of most catches.

As captain of perhaps the weakest side in the IPL in 2008, he turned a group of nobodies into a formidable team and led them to an unprecedented victory in the first version of IPL. Many remarked him as the wiliest captain Australia never had.

His overs were always a fun to watch rather than just individual balls because of the way he planned and plotted the dismissal of his preys. He was one of the five players ranked by Wisden as the greatest cricketers of the 20th century.

In 1993, he took 72 victims, and in 2005 took a massive 96 wickets coming after a one year ban. His control over the degree of spin, and his flippers, sliders and zooters made the life of many a batsman miserable.

No one has had a more colorful career than Warne, full of achievements as a magician and mischiefs as a maverick. He was always in news for something or the other. If it was his relationship with bookmakers in 1994-95, or later for his comments against then Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga in a newspaper column.

He was also banned for drug abuse for one year in 2003. Off the cricketing field, his marital and private life has been subject to scrutinies by newspapers. His marriage ended in divorce after a few sex sms scandals, including one when he sent one text to her wife which was meant for somebody else. Post divorce too, he has been in news lately for his relationship with Elizabeth Hurley.

It would be safe to say that Warne is as arrogant as any Australian, yet humble enough to acknowledge that he had nightmares of Sachin Tendulkar hitting him for sixes.