Widely regarded as one of the greatest spin bowlers of all time, Shane Warne was a true legend of the sport. With close to 1,000 wickets in international cricket, Warne was a showstopper who could not just change the complexion of the game with his bowling but also got the crowd going behind him.
Warne was very colourful and entertaining character and the immense skills and variety he had in his arsenal made him captivating to watch. Born on September 13, 1969, at Victoria, Australia, the Australian superstar celebrates his 48th birthday today. On this special day, let us have a look at the five best Shane Warne performances.
8-71 v England at Brisbane, 1994:
This was back when Warne was still evolving, still treading the path of becoming a great of the game. And he somehow always reserved his best against his arch-rivals, England. On a good Brisbane wicket of the 1st Ashes Test in 1994, Australia had dominated proceedings thoroughly and had set the visitors a humongous target of 508 runs to win the match. Ideally, by the fourth and fifth day, the pitch should have begun to deteriorate. But the Brisbane pitch was firm and the England batsmen were applying themselves well. However, Warne became a thorn in England’s resistance. He gave the ball a lot of rip and despite the flatness of the wicket, kept extracting good turn and bounce. Although the England batsmen tried their best to block him, Warne kept going through their defenses. One after the other, Warne kept snaring the batsmen and ended up with career-best figures of 8-71 from a whopping 50.3 overs. Although his fingers were tired, Warne’s outstanding effort helped Australia win the match by 184 runs.
7-23 v Pakistan at Brisbane, 1995:
In the first Test of Pakistan’s tour to Australia in 1995 at Brisbane, the visitors were put on the back foot after Australia scored a healthy 463 in their first innings. Pakistan needed a solid reply to be in the game. However, that never came to be as Shane Warne completely ripped them apart with his leg-spin. Usually known to play spun bowling very well, the Pakistani batsmen were done in one a surface that had good bounce. While they batted on the third day, the pitch was still very good. But Warne was in his elements and bowled excellent, probing channels. Once he got opener Amir Sohail out stumped for 32, Warne was unstoppable and literally ran over the middle and lower middle order. Pakistan slumped to an embarrassing 97 all out courtesy Warne’s sensational spell of 7-23 of just 16 overs. Australia enforced the follow-on and won the match by an innings and 126 runs.
7-56 v South Africa, Sydney, 1994:
It’s a shame that such a magnificent performance came in a losing cause. In the second Test of South Africa’s 1994 tour of Australia, the visitors batted first on a Sydney track that had something in it for the bowlers. South Africa started off very well at 110-2. However, as soon as Shane Warne began getting a bit of grip and turn in the Sydney pitch, he began spinning his web. After having the set Gary Kirsten (67) out stumped, Warne choked the remaining batsmen with his guile and variety. None of the South Africans had answers to Warne’s relentless lines and sharp spin. He was consistently at the stumps and got most of the batsmen out bowled, LBW and caught and bowled. Warne finished with a brilliant 7-56 that reduced South Africa to 169. Despite this superb effort, though, South Africa came back strongly and won the match by 5 runs.
6-46 v England, Birmingham, 2005:
Warne has produced some of his very best against England on countless occasions. In the famous 2005 Ashes, Warne was his usual brilliant self and in the second Test of the series at Birmingham, bowled an incredible spell on the fourth day of the match. As England was looking to set a tough target for the visitors, Warne changed the complexion of the game with his vicious turn and bounce. There were cracks on the pitch and Warne kept planting the ball on the rough to trap the batsmen. After getting Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen caught behind, Warne spun his web on the tailenders and ran them over. Only Andrew Flintoff (73) was able to offer resistance to Warne’s craftiness but eventually, Warne had him out bowled as well. He was the last England wicket to fall and Warne finished with terrific figures if 6-46. Australia lost the nail-biting game by just 2 runs.
7-94 v Pakistan, Colombo, 2002:
This was a very special effort as Warne had often been nullified in Asian conditions, but he reigned supreme in this Test. The first Test of Australia-Pakistan series in 2002 was played in Colombo. Trying to overhaul Australia’s first innings score of 467, Pakistan looked set to dominate the opposition. However, Warne kept puncturing them from the start and despite some decent partnerships, Pakistan was never able to get going. After getting Abdul Razzaq early, Warne did not relent. Though Faisal Iqbal and Rashid Latif thwarted him for a bit, Warne came back with aplomb and wiped off the lower order completely. He showed his full array – flippers, googlies, leg breaks – that day and ultimately ended up with a stunning 7-94. Pakistan were shot out for 274 and lost the game later by 41 runs when Warne took 4-94 in the final innings.