Shane Warne dies: Gatting 'dumbfounded', just as he was by Ball of the Century

By Sports Desk March 04, 2022

Shane Warne's death left Mike Gatting in disbelief – almost three decades after the Australia spinner dismissed the England batsman with the so-called Ball of the Century.

The loss of Warne, at the age of 52, sent shock through the cricket world, with Gatting forever closely associated with the man from Victoria.

Former England skipper Gatting was dismissed in sensational style by Warne during the opening Ashes Test at Old Trafford on June 4, 1993, when a seemingly innocuous delivery turned sharply and bowled the bamboozled home batsman.

The delivery veered to pitch outside the line of the right-handed Gatting's leg stump, only to dip, rip and zip beyond his defensive prod, beating the outside edge of the bat before going on to hit off stump.

Warne had already played 11 Tests, but this was his first in England, and the hosts only had an inkling of his talent. His first delivery in an Ashes Test went down in history.

"We understood he was a very talented sportsperson. He liked his surfing, he was a typical sort of Aussie larrikin, as they called them, who could spin the cricket ball," Gatting told BBC 5 Live.

"We didn't know much more about him than that, and in the match before they told him to just bowl his leg-breaks and he didn't bowl his flippers, and topples [top-spinners], and googlies, but when he got down the other end there, I was just trying to watch the ball.

"I knew it was a leg-break and I knew it was going to spin, you could hear it coming through the air from down the other end, and then just at the last yard or so, as a good leg-spinner does, it just drifted in, and it drifted just outside leg stump and just turned out of nowhere, a long, long way.

"I'm quite a wide chap and it got past me as well as everything else and just clipped the off bail, and I was just as dumbfounded as I am now to hear that he's died."

Gatting, now 64, was in his final years as an international batsman. Even with the passing of time, he remains astonished by the way Warne got him out that day.

"I can't believe it, and I couldn't believe it then, and it was just one of those that sort of probably helped him," Gatting said.

"He was a pretty confident bloke already, but I'm sure that gave him a huge amount of confidence and took him to the next level, and he kept going up levels after that."

Reflecting on Warne's death, after a suspected heart attack, Gatting said: "It's been just devastating really, and unbelievable. When you think he's 52, and he's been an absolute legend in the game, and I don't use that word lightly either. It's just unreal.

"We've lost a great cricketer and a great guy. I'm very, very happy to have called him a great friend."

Current England captain Joe Root said his squad, currently on tour in the West Indies, were "shocked and really sad" to hear news of Warne's death.

"My experiences of Shane were of someone who absolutely loves the game of cricket, was always a joy to be around, gave so much energy to the sport," Root said.

"Growing up as a kid he was a massive idol of mine, someone you wanted to emulate. The way he could win a game on his own, his skill level was incredible. But to have the opportunity to spend some time with him and get to know him a little bit, albeit not a lot, it's deeply saddening to hear the news this morning."

Root said watching Warne in the 2005 Ashes, where he shone with 40 wickets despite Australia losing the series 2-1, was "the sort of thing that makes you want to get into the game and play at the highest level".

"You could see his joy and enthusiasm when he played was still there when you got to speak to him," Root said. "He just wanted to see the game played at the peak of its powers. It's just really sad."

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