Shane Warne was an enigma; forgive me the usage of such a word, but the man deserved it. In his own way, he revolutionised spin bowling and has created a standard to which every upcoming spinner is gauged and ends up falling short.
In the Aussie domination of the '90s and the early new millennium, it was Warne who formed one of the strongest pillars in their bowling attack. As much as McGrath, Gillespie, and Fleming were relied upon, the same berth of confidence ended on Warne's shoulders.
And like a true Aussie, he scarred most of the opposition batting; ripped apart their partnership; made them wring their hands in misery and get their knees quaking with fear and awe.
He must have instilled the fear of God in them yet again, making them pray countless times that someone else gets to square with him first rather than themselves.
Those 708 wickets are testimony to his greatness; A testimony to the talent nurtured over 16 long years and developing over each passing day. It's not just any other statistics or record made for ordinary compilation, its like a Grail of its own and each fan of Warne will have some special moment with his wickets' data.
Truly, in the cricketing parlance he was "divine intervention" and post his retirement the Australian team has struggled to find a reasonably decent spinner as his successor.
Yet there is a consolation and a slight reassurance to that fact because, though Warne has retired from international cricket, he still is a part of the fraternity as a coach-cum-captain of the IPL team Rajasthan Royals.
Royals—which went on to win the IPL in its debut season—owes its dream run to this man. Touted as the underdog team because of low resources and finances, it went for Warne as the coach combined as the captain because of no takers to the job.
Questions regarding Warne's credibility as a coach and captain were quelled after the spectacular show it put in. It was a thorough team effort with Warne making sure that almost every player who was purchased got a chance to display his talent at least once.
Shane Watson, Swapnil Asnodkar, Yousuf Pathan and so many others got their recognition which they might have not otherwise.
Warne proved that he was as impartial a captain as he was a coach, in a way proving a point to the Aussie selectors overruling his ability to captain the national side after Waugh's retirement, in favour of Ponting.
Yes, Warne was a God in the world of spin bowling yet at the same time, he was also a "mere" man in his real, professional and personal world. A perpetual bad boy, he made the media lights more often than not for "Not towing the line" rather than sticking to it.
Controversies have surrounded his career and married life, attempting to mar his highest achievements though they haven't managed to touch it so far. Media plagiarising or not, praises and accolades from fans haven't diminished as yet.
Contrarily, they are soaring with continuity. Maybe its nostalgia about the good old days when Warne was at his prime best or maybe its just a touch of more appreciation to this spin-wiz; but whatever they mean: it can safely be assumed that it's all for the best!
And as the second season of IPL begins next week, for all cricket fans: new and old, it will be an honour to see this legend in action with the spirit that had dominated the sport once upon a time and which rocked and slipped most of the batsmen's strong foundations from the bottom of their feet!
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