SPO_220304 WARNE ANIS-1646416962831
Australia's Shane Warne bowls against England during an Ashes Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham. The leg-spinner has played many significant roles in Australia's win in the Ashes series. Image Credit: Reuters file

Dubai: Leg-spinners are known to be special in cricket, especially in the highest form of the game which is Test cricket. One player who is considered as university of leg-spin is Shane Warne, who sadly passed away on Friday evening at the age of just 52.

I clearly remember Warne’s debut against India in the series of 1992 at Sydney where Ravi Shastri, who scored his first double century, and Sachin Tendulkar, who too scored his first hundred in Australia, took him apart. But he made his mark with the delivery of the century in the Manchester Test with his first ball in an Ashes series, which totally bamboozled Mike Gatting. In only his 12th Test match, Warne picked 12 wickets to win the man of the man of the match award.

Such was the impact of that magic delivery, not only on Gatting but the whole England team, that Australia dominated their arch-rivals for the next 12 years and Warne picked up 195 wickets in just 36 Tests with Australia losing just one Ashes series in 2005.

Redefined art of spin

Overall he picked 708 wickets in 145 Tests and was the first to reach 700-wicket mark at an astonishing average of just 25.41. Normally spinners are known to dazzle in Asian conditions, where the pitches tend to support the spinners, but Warne was an exception. He redefined the art of spin bowling with his magic deliveries all over the world and picked 37 five-wicket hauls in his Test career and won eight man of the series award.

He was also very good in the white-ball format where he single-handedly won Australia the 1999 World Cup semi-finals against South Africa and the final against Pakistan. He picked up 293 wickets in 194 games again at an average of just 25.73 with an economy of just 4.25. In the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL), he led his team Rajasthan Royals to the title with his shrewd captaincy in 2008. Rajasthan Royals are yet to win another IPL title, which is a testament to his leadership qualities.

There have been many great spinners, but there will be only one Shane Warne, who was the King of Leg-spin.