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30 Years On, Shane Warne's Ball Of The Century

May 31, 2023 14:18 IST

Shane Warne immortalised himself with the 'Ball Of The Century' on June 4, 1993 during the first Ashes Test against England at Old Trafford in Manchester.

Then 24 years old, Warne deceived Mike Gatting with a delivery that landed on the leg stump and, as the Englishman tried to defend, turned viciously to clip his off bail.

Gatting was gobsmacked by the big leg break, a craft that was dying before Warne revived it with his guile.

Warne, since making his debut against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1992 -- he bowled 45 overs and took one wicket (Ravi Shastri caught by Dean Jones) for 150 -- played 145 Tests for Australia, picking up 708 wickets. In his 194 ODI appearances, Warne snared 293 scalps.

Sadly, the spin legend died suddenly on March 4, 2022 while holidaying at a resort in Koh Samui, Thailand. He was only 52.

Mike Atherton, who played that Old Trafford Test 30 years ago and is now the cricket correspondent for The Times newspaper in the UK, recalled in a column this week how the 'Ball Of The Century' still sent a shiver down the spine.

'He bowled a practice ball to mid-on, paused a while to get the field right, and then, as (Richie) Benaud intoned 'first ball in Test cricket in England for Shane Warne', he walked, then broke into a trot and released the ball from a low arm -- maybe at 2 o'clock -- which, along with the strength of his fingers and wrist, sent it humming towards Gatting, dipping and then swerving and then spinning beyond the batsman's half-forward push,' Athers remembered in his Times column.

'Given the angles -- to spin it past Gatting from outside leg stump and still hit the top of off stump -- it was the perfect ball, the image made more so by Gatting turning to watch it hit his stumps, and then standing there, momentarily, in bemusement, his mouth making an astonished "O",' Athers wrote.

'With this entrance Warne had entered Ashes folklore, although he was to take another 194 wickets in Ashes contests, more than anyone else by a distance. His legacy was assured, and it lives on through these memories, but more so because of the verve and zest with which he approached the game -- and life -- more generally,' Athers noted.

'During the first Ashes series since his passing, he will be sorely missed.'

In August 2001, Atherton was dismissed similarly by Warne, the ball turning sharply from outside the leg stump to clip the off bail.


IMAGE: Shane Warne celebrates bowling Mike Gatting during the Old Trafford Test, June 4, 1993. Photograph: ICC/Twitter


IMAGE: Mike Gatting stands stunned at the crease, unsure of what had just happened as Graham Gooch seems equally bewildered at what he has just seen. Photograph: ICC/Twitter


IMAGE: Warne celebrates Gatting's wicket. Photograph: ICC/Twitter


IMAGE: Warne is congratulated by then captain Allan Border, right and Mark Waugh (in sun hat) after taking the wicket. Photograph: Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive


IMAGE: Warne celebrates taking another wicket during the Old Trafford Test. Photograph: Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive


IMAGE: Warne celebrates getting Graham Thorpe, stumped by Ian Healey for 60 runs as non striker Peter Such looks on during the fifth Cornhill Insurance Ashes Test against England at Edgbaston, August 8, 1993. Photograph: Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive


IMAGE: Warne traps Mark Lathwell LBW during the Ashes 1993 tour. Photograph: Reuters


Photographs curated by Manisha Kotian/
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/