Ball of the Century: Cricket has seen many bowlers (spinners) that have done some incredible things with the ball. There have been a few individuals who have been regarded as magicians with the ball in hand. The likes of Muttiah Muralitharan, Anil Kumble, Saqlain Mushtaq, Jim Laker, Bishan Singh Bedi, Abdul Qadir, and many other spinners spun the bowl like magic in their playing days. But when it comes to choosing the best, not many could have matched the skill set that Shane Warne brought to the game. He was in a different league and certainly the greatest leg-spinner of all time.
Hailing from Australia, where the pitches normally assist the pacer, Warne established himself as one of the best spinners of all time. He was the first bowler in test cricket history to take 700 wickets. However, Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan broke Warne’s record of 708 wickets and took 800 wickets in his career. But both individuals had different skills. Warne bowled the most difficult spin art, leg-spin, and mastered it at the highest level. He had around 5-6 types of bowls in his arsenal, which made him the toughest bowler to face. But things were not the same with him in his early days. But then came a moment that made him Shane Warne.
Shane Warne bowled the ‘Ball of the Century” on 4 June 1993
Warne made his test debut on January 2, 1992, against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He bowled 45 overs in the first inning and took just one wicket after conceding 150 runs. Such was his performance in the first year and a half of his career. But then came a moment that changed everything, and his career skyrocketed from that point on. It happened during the first test of the 1993 Ashes series at Old Trafford in Manchester.
Warne bowled a ball to English batter Mike Gatting that was later regarded as the “Ball of the Century.” It was England that won the toss and chose to bowl first. Australia got all out for 289 in their first inning. In reply, England were at 80/1 and looking good for a big score. But then Warne produced a magical delivery that just left everyone amused and dismissed Gatting, who was considered a good batter against spin.
The ball took a totally opposite turn after pitching to the ground. It was looking like it would go down the leg side, but it turned sharply to take the off-stumps of the batter. That ball was pitched a few inches outside the leg stumps and hit the top of off and the batter was shocked. Warne picked up 8 wickets in that game, and Australia won the game by 179 runs. That was the start of Australia’s dominance in the world of cricket. And Warne became the greatest leg-spinner of all time.
Warne played his last test on January 2, 2005, against England. In his 15-year superb career, he took 708 wickets in 145 Tests with a best of 8/71, including 37 fifers and 10 ten-wicket hauls.