Shane Warne dies: Spin genius was pure theatre with a remarkable aura

By Sports Desk March 04, 2022

To watch the great Shane Warne bowl his mesmerizing leg-spin was pure theatre.

It was poetry in motion to witness the Australia legend come in off his short run before bamboozling batsmen all over the world time and again.

The cricket world is in mourning after Warne died in Thailand at the age of 52.

Not only was he one of the best cricketers of all time, Warne established himself as a sporting icon due to his wizardry with the ball and his infectious personality.

He made a huge impact with his incredible skill, passion for the sport and drive to reach new heights.

There was a swagger about the Victorian, who looked more like a surfer from Bondi Beach than a Test bowler when he emerged on the international stage with bleach-blonde hair and zinc sunscreen smeared on his face.

Warne certainly made waves in a magnificent playing career, with Muttiah Muralitharan the only bowler to have claimed more than his 708 Test scalps from 145 matches.

There were so many highs for the maverick tweaker, a standout being the 'Ball of the Century' to bowl Mike Gatting with a delivery that ripped up from outside leg to strike the off stump in the 1993 Ashes series.

He also claimed an Ashes hat-trick on his home Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1994 and was man of the match when Australia won the 1999 World Cup final against Pakistan after taking 4-33 at Lord's.

Warne loved being on the big stage and he thrived on the pressure, delivering multiple match-winning performances over the years.

There was an aura about him. He was a vibrant personality, a great sport, who knew how to enjoy himself, and far more than just a cricketer.

Off the field, he lived a colourful life and was described as a "rock and roll" cricketer by his commentary colleague Mark Nicholas on Friday.

Warne was stripped of the Australia vice-captaincy in 2000 after a phone-sex scandal involving a British nurse, at a time when he was married.

He was linked with many women, notably coupling up with British actress Liz Hurley to whom he became engaged, although they later split.

Famously, Warne was banned for a year after testing positive for a banned diuretic in February 2003, just prior to Australia beginning their campaign at the Cricket World Cup. He said the pill had been given to him by his mother, flatly denied any intentional wrongdoing, and was soon back to his best once that ban expired.

Warne continued to pass on his wisdom to both young and established players after calling time on his playing career, leaving spinners in particularly transfixed by both his actions and words.

He remained in the game as a coach, mentor and an excellent commentator, bringing an unrivalled energy to his work and play.

It was not only batsmen who had difficulty reading him, as he also experienced success on the poker table.

There was an air of expectation when Warne walked onto the field, entered a room, started a commentary stint or a coaching session.

The many tributes from far and wide for a sporting icon showed the measure of the man who has gone far too soon.

Warne was a superstar, a genius who lived life to the full and is a huge loss.

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