The spin stops

Shane Keith Warne (1969-2022)

For some time yesterday, the cricket world stopped spinning.

Disbelief gripped even the most casual cricket fan as one of cricket's most transcendent personalities, arguably its greatest bowler, and inarguably the best leg-spinner, breathed his last.

Australian legend Shane Warne passed away in Thailand last night of a suspected heart attack.

He was 52.

Warne tweeted condolences for the death of great Australian cricketer Rodney Marsh just 12 hours before his own death.

Warne's death plunged the cricket world into mourning. 

Despite retiring from international cricket as the then highest Test wicket-taker 15 years ago, Warne continues to be close to cricket lovers' hearts.

Twitter was lit up by hundreds of tweets within minutes as people ranging from former and current cricketers such as Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram, Kevin Pietersen, Adam Gilchrist, Mustafizur Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim, Virat Kohli, and football legend Gary Lineker to media personalities such as Stephen Fry and Piers Morgan grieved Warne's loss.

Heartbreak emojis from the famous and fans alike dominated the social media site in the immediate aftermath.

Warne singlehandedly revolutionised the difficult but immensely rewarding art of leg-spin in the early 1990s, and came closer to perfecting it than anyone in the game's history.

Along with Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralidaran, he can be credited for the revival of spin. His battles with the two preeminent batters of his era, Tendulkar and Lara, are the stuff of cricketing lore.

To this day, whenever a leg-spinner impresses, commentators bring up the inevitable comparison with the all-time great.

Apart from his Test exploits, he was the player of the match in the semifinal and final of the 1999 World Cup, which Australia won.

The Australian held great value for the game as an incisive and often witty voice in his post-playing role as commentator and pundit.

Youngsters still look up the "ball of the century", with which Warne announced himself in the 1993 Ashes. Sauntering up for his first ball against archrivals England, Warne bowled one that swerved into and past Mike Gatting's legs before spitting back across his body to clean bowl the England great.

Although the most famous, it is by no means the only time the Victorian left good batsmen looking foolish with his unmatched skill.

Although he never captained Australia, for reasons to do with his colourful personality that made him endlessly entertaining, his ultra-sharp cricketing brain came into focus when he captained the least-fancied Rajasthan Royals to the inaugural IPL trophy in 2008.

In the future, young spinners typing his name into YouTube search box and encountering Warne's invaluable advice and his razor-sharp analysis, will be saddened to know that there will be no new inspiration from the king of spin.

As the cricket world resumes spinning, it will know that it lost more than a man. It lost an institution.  


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