Shane Warne’s 1st Death Anniversary: Mike Gatting To Re-live His ‘Ball Of The Century’
On this day in 2022, Australian spin wizard Shane Warne died suddenly at the age of 52. Warne has given cricket fans many memorable moments to cherish. His Ashes debut in June 1993 delivered, arguably, cricket’s greatest moment for the foreseeable future – thanks to the internet.
It was June 4, 1993. The venue was Old Trafford. Warne, by then a rookie with 31 wickets in 11 Tests, was getting ready to bowl his first ball in England. The batsman was Mike Gatting, a former Test captain who was also a prolific player of spin bowling. What happened in the next seven seconds shocked the world.
Warne’s delivery appeared to be heading in a straight direction at first, but took a sharp right turn after pitching. Gatting responded by moving his left foot forward to block the ball with his bat, a classic defensive batting technique against spin. However, the ball missed Gatting’s bat and spun dramatically to clear his stumps.
The ball stunned Gatting, umpire Dickie Bird and the Channel 9 commentator, who remarked that the ball “spinned two and a half feet” to hit the stumps. In retrospect, the delivery has been called “the ball of the century”.
#this day In 1993: Shane Warne. Mike Gatting. Ball of the century.
– 7cricket (@7cricket) June 4, 2021
Years later, Gatting recalled the moment when speaking to the BBC: “It circled a good two or three inches outside leg stump … The ball didn’t touch my bat, my gloves or pads, so I thought Australia’s wicket-keeper Ian Healy must have kicked the bails…the ball had clipped the bails.”
Warne ended up taking four wickets in both innings of the Test as Australia won by 179 runs.
The ‘Ball of the Century’ not only signaled Warne’s arrival on the international stage, but also revived the fading art of leg-spin, which had largely been overshadowed by the stupendous fast bowling performances of the 1970s and 80s.
Warne became the second highest wicket-taker in Test history, becoming the first bowler to take 700 Test wickets. Ultimately, Warne took 708 wickets in 145 Tests at an average of 25.41.
The ‘Ball of the Century’ also sparked Warne’s lifelong romance with England, which became his favorite hunting ground. Warne took 129 wickets in 22 Tests played in England. Furthermore, his England bowling average of 21.95 was better than his home average of 26.
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