Shane Warne

8th March 2022

“We returned to our seats just as the Australians were taking the field for the afternoon session. They did so through a guard of honour made at the boundary edge by a group of disabled cricketers, dressed in their whites, who had given a demonstration of their skills on the outfield during the break. This was a courageous group – including some blind and some with missing limbs – and they formed two lines to welcome the Australians as Gilchrist led his team on to the ground. Most of the Australians jogged or walked straight through the disabled players’ tunnel, clearly focusing on their immediate tasks when play resumed, though Gilchrist held out a large wicketkeeping glove to the player at the end of one of the lines. The last player out was Shane Warne, who stopped and went slowly along one of the lines, shaking hands with everyone in it. I found this incredibly moving. Good on you, mate, I thought”.

[An Ordinary Spectator,
page 295]

Shane Warne died on Friday at the age of 52. I saw him play for Australia at Headingley in the Ashes Test matches of 1993, 1997 and 2001 and in a World Cup group match against South Africa in 1999.

In An Ordinary Spectator, I noted that, in the one-day match, South Africa’s sizeable total would have been even larger had it not been for Warne’s “impressively tight and controlled bowling” in the middle of the innings – he took 2 for 33 from 10 overs, by far the most economical bowling on the day. Australia had to win the match to stay in the competition, which they duly did thanks to a century by the captain Steve Waugh (and an infamous dropped catch by Herschelle Gibbs). Australia won the World Cup by defeating Pakistan at Lord’s a week later.

It’s probably true to say that Headingley was not Warne’s happiest Test match hunting ground. He took a total of 3 wickets there – which was 3 more than the runs he scored in his two innings. No matter. The 2001 Test is principally remembered for Mark Butcher’s match-winning innings of 173 not out for England on the final day. However, for me, the most striking memory from this match – noted above – is from the end of the lunch break on the Saturday.

145 Test Matches. 708 Test Match Wickets. 3,145 Test Match Runs. 125 Test Match Catches.

Shane Warne 1969-2022. RIP.

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