Bowlin’ Shane!

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Shane Warne has retired from first class cricket, ending a playing career that his seen him established as one of the greatest bowlers of all time. He has cited a tiring body and new business opportunities as the principle factors behind his decision.

The 41 year old finished his career as he spent most of it; winning cricket matches. He led the Rajasthan Royals to a crushing ten wicket victory over the Mumbai Indians on Friday as the IPL group phase drew to a close. In fairytale fashion Warne also took a wicket in his final over, outfoxing an advancing Rohit Sharma to present Rayudu with an easy stumping chance. It completed an IPL during which Warne claimed 13 wickets in as many games whilst skippering the Royals to a mid-table finish.

However, it is in the test arena that Warne is best known. His mammoth career haul of 708 wickets with an average of little over 25 makes him the second most prolific bowler in test history. For over a decade he tormented the best batsmen in the world with his array of deliveries and ability to vary his pace cleverly. Warne also developed a reputation as a highly competent slip fielder; despite several high profile dropped catches in recent Ashes tours. Shane retired from test match cricket immediately following the 2006/07 Ashes series.

Despite such a storied career there are a few golden moments that stand out. For example, in the early stages of his international career Warne was responsible for what many commentators coined ‘the ball of the century’ to dismiss Mike Gatting during the 1993 Ashes series. Gatting took the usual approach to dealing with a leg spinner by offering bat and pad outside off-stump only for a remarkably turning delivery to clatter into his timbers.

Fast forward 12 years and Warne claimed an outstanding haul of 40 wickets in 2005 Ashes series; despite being written off as past his best. However his personal triumph would provide scant consolation as the Aussies were defeated 2-1 in what has become an iconic series.

Warne also successfully adapted his game to perform at the top level in one day and limited overs cricket.  In the early years of his One Day International career he blazed a trail for spinners in the shorter form of the game. The control that Warne had over his deliveries and the change in pace he offered compared with the quicks made helped Australia to become a dominant force in ODIs.

The baggy greens recorded three successive World Cup wins; starting with their triumph at Lords in 1999. By the time Warne retired from ODIs he had collected close to 300 wickets, with his usual impressive economy rate.

Warne is also well known for his off field exploits no stranger to controversy, having made the front pages frequently over the years. He has been photographed with a conveyor belt of women and has admitted Infidelities which have led to the break up of his marriage. He was also suspended for taking a banned diuretic in 2003 and was caught selling advice to bookmakers in 1998.

However, Warne’s enthusiasm for the game and phenomenal performances are what he will be remembered  for. With over 1,000 international wickets and an under-appreciated haul of 4,000 runs the game will miss a player named among the top five cricketers of the century by Wisden and respected throughout the world.

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