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'He mastered the hardest art in the game'

Part eleven: Alec Stewart on the best bowlers he has faced. Last but not least: Shane Warne (00:00)

Producer: Ranjit Shinde

January 15, 2013

Transcript

Shane Warne

'He mastered the hardest art in the game'

January 15, 2013

Alec Stewart is bowled for a duck by Shane Warne, England v Australia, 3rd Test, Trent Bridge, 2nd day, August 3, 2001
"If you said to me what is it like to have face Shane Warne, I'd say, 'I don't know, I wasn't out there long enough!'" © Getty Images

I better leave the best to last, and that is the Australian blond bombshell, Shane Warne. I can sit here and tell you he was the toughest opponent I came up against. My record will show you that. I think I succumbed to him 14 times in my 34 Ashes Test-match career, so he had the better of me. There were times when I scored runs against him, but it was hard work, because he mastered the hardest art in the game, which is legspin.

He had a brilliant cricket brain. He understood the game and was always very proactive in what he did on the cricket field. You could pick him, but what I couldn't do - and I'd like to think other batsmen might agree - was, you couldn't tell how much he was going to spin the ball; his googly, for example. Mushtaq [Ahmed] probably has a better disguised googly.

Warne's flipper was his biggest weapon. To me, the ball he bowled me out with in Brisbane in the 1994 series - thankfully it was one of the top six balls he said he ever bowled -because the ball before this, he'd bowled his legspinner, which was shortish and wide of off stump. I got back and cut it, it went for four through the covers. Then the next ball he bowled, which I thought was exactly the same, fractionally straighter, and I thought it was a leggie, so got back, went to cut it and my middle stump was knocked back because of the pace he gained off the pitch with his wonderful flipper.

It was a challenge, and because Australia were so dominant in that period of time, and I mentioned [Glenn] McGrath - so you had McGrath you had Warne, and you had the likes of [Jason] Gillespie, [Paul] Reiffel, [Damien] Fleming, and the other lads.

You could never really get on top of him, and if you try to take a little bit of a gamble - run down the wicket and hit him for four or six - he was brave enough to lob up the next one again, because Australia normally had so many runs to play with, or they'd already got through half the batting line-up, that he was able to almost boss and bully the opposition batsmen.

To me: the very, very best. So with my record of getting out to him 14 times, if you said to me what is it like to have face Shane Warne, I'd go hand on heart and say to you, "I don't know, I wasn't out there long enough!"


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