Talk about revival of the noble art of leg spin and you won`t be able to look beyond Shane Warne. With a slight twist of his right wrist on an early summer day at Old Trafford in 1993, Warne bamboozled England batsman Mike Gatting that came to be known as `Ball of the Century`. As the cricketing world gears up for the Ashes series between England and Australia later this month, it is time to revisit Warne`s delivery more than anything else.
It was June 4, 1993, at England`s Old Trafford. The bleached blonde-haired Warne, who had taken just 31 wickets in 11 Test matches up to that point, was preparing to deliver his first ball on English soil. Mike Gatting, a stocky Middlesex batter and a part-time spinner, appeared ready to face Warne. Gatting was one of the best players of spin from that time, so in order to deal with a rookie, Warne would have not been a big issue for him.
But destiny had other plans! The ball landed wide of leg stump but spun sharply to knock back Gatting`s off-stump, leaving Gatting confused, who was unable to progress what happened. But the finger of the umpire went up and he had to go, muttering his feelings of shock to himself.
What followed after the wicket was Warne`s dominance across the world. The leg spinner conquered every country possible with his signature `flippers` and sharp turners. His blonde hair and charismatic personality contributed further to the development of the legend that was `Warnie`.
A lot of youngsters would emulate Warne`s bowling style and action. Many of the young, up-and-coming spinners were touted to be the next Shane Warne. Due to the sheer level of skill, execution and influence in later years, the ball earned the tag of `Ball of the Century`.
Hear Gatting speak about his dismissal to a `ball of the century` in the video below.
In 2021, Warne admitted in an Instagram post that the ball changed his life.
“This day changed my life 28 years ago (1993). I was just 23 years old and playing in my first ever #ashes series & this was my first ball. Still can`t believe it happened. Thanks for missing it Mr Gatting & making this ball become what is now known as the #ballofthecentury hahaha,” said Warne on Instagram.
Warne finished his international career with 708 Test wickets and a further 293 in One-Day Internationals, placing him second on the list of all-time international wicket-takers behind his great friend and rival Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka at 1,347. He continues to remain the highest wicket-takers in the tournament wirth 195 wickets from 36 matches. His best bowling figures was 8/71.