Bangalore Royal Challengers v Rajasthan Royals, IPL, Cape Town April 18, 2009

Warne wizardry lights up veterans' day

Shane Warne's night was ruined by a shoddy batting performance from his team. But what a pleasure he was to watch. We must be grateful that he is still in our lives, however briefly
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I have known no better sights in cricket than watching Shane Warne bowl. Watching VVS Laxman's batting comes close; however, there are days when VVS may look a stranger, plodding and grafting like a pedant. But Warne is a joy even when he is being had.

A lot of it comes from being a legspinner. They are enchanters. Sublime, magical, unpredictable, fallible, they possess an art that tugs at the soul. Just as they can make your heart soar with joy, they can make you feel their pain. But even among these rare men, Warne is a man apart.

Twenty20 is not his stage. The limited nature of the game constricts and diminishes his craft. Legpsinners are meant to bowl like millionaires, with leisure and pomp. They are creatures of rhythm and the build-up for them is gradual. The first four or five overs, they are meant to feel their way through. Twenty20 allows them no fifth over - perhaps not even a second if their first doesn't land right. Cameron White has had some success in this form, but he is a legspinner only by definition, not in practice.

This season, the odds were stacked even higher against Warne. Not only is he a year older, he is also far rustier, having played no competitive cricket since the last IPL and, going by the practice match a few days earlier, he was far from match-fit. But geniuses find a way to express themselves on the big stage, and how Warne lifted his game.

Three balls is all it took. The first three balls were short, but length was growing fuller every ball and, by the fourth, Warne had found his mojo. When the fifth one left his hand, Virat Kohli sensed a four, but the moment he left his crease he was a goner. The ball floated up in the air, inviting the charge, but when the batsman went down the pitch, he found a grand deception. The ball had drifted away and it had dipped. The bat created an empty arc, and the ball found legstump. The next one nearly took off as it spun viciously past B Akhil's hopeful prod.

Rahul Dravid swept him away for four the next over and worked him away for a couple of singles, but the third over was sensational. It started with the legspinner's perfect ball: it drifted in, dipped in flight and spun from leg to outside off. Beaten all ends up, Dravid looked up and nodded in appreciation. Good batsmen know a great ball when they see one. With the third, out came the flipper: skidding, fast and on target, it found Akhil's pad even before the bat could make its way down. It looked plumb, but replays showed the umpire was right. The impact had been outside the offstump. But the next ball he was gone, dragged forward by the flight, deceived by the dip and defeated by the turn.

Praveen Kumar managed to swat a straight six in the his last over, distorting his figures somewhat, yet 4-0-18-2 wasn't bad returns for a man who will turn 40 in a few months in a game that is supposed to be a young man's game.

In fact, the day belonged to the golden oldies. Dravid, so berated in the first edition and stripped of the captaincy this year, played the innings of the day, Sachin Tendulkar carried his bat and was Man of the Match in the first match and Anil Kumble finished the day with five wickets.

Warne's night was ruined by a shoddy batting performance from his team. But what a pleasure he was to watch. We must be grateful that he is still in our lives, however briefly.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ven.Kat on April 21, 2009, 5:23 GMT

    I agree with Sambit...Warne was just Amazing!!! Treat to watch!!!

  • Chedchatri on April 19, 2009, 19:43 GMT

    I think the people who say that Kumble isn't getting his due are totally missing the point! Nobody denies that Kumble is an all time great, but there is a difference between a great bowler and a genius. And make no mistake Warne is a genius of the highest order. Kumble has other qualities which make him a great bowler, but as far as I am concerned there has never been a spin bowler (leave alone leg spin) quite like Warne. The kind of drift and turn he was getting yesterday was really reminiscent of his best days. It was funny actually seeing batsmen like Kohli taking wild slogs and getting completely beaten all ends up. If they want to play shots like that against him they ought to take lessons from players like Lara and Sachin!

  • Charindra on April 19, 2009, 13:30 GMT

    Warne is a great bowler, but yesterday was not about Warne at all. It was about Dravid defying his critics, Kumble defying the odds and Pietersen defying the petty, disrespectful crowd. The pitch was spin friendly and that's the reason for the success of the spinners. Infact if Murali was selected to play Chennai may well have won the first game. But it's unsurprising that Warne gets all the accolades because all his playing life, he has been able to attract the media who love to romanticize his character flaws.

  • AT111 on April 19, 2009, 9:11 GMT

    To all those guys who are complaining about Sambit Bal concentrating mostly on Warne, remember, this is an article on Warne and not a news report of the matches. Obviously he is going to concentrate on Warne.

    If he had written about Tendulkar's fifty, one of these guys would probably have written complaining that Bal was ignoring bowlers like Warne who did well in spite of not playing regularly nowadays.

    Give the writer a break and just enjoy the article.

  • Percy_Fender on April 19, 2009, 5:22 GMT

    It is not surprising on a day when there were two performers for Bal to eulogise one and not mention the other. All their carreers long Warne has been written of much in the same manner all of blond hair and genius in his craft. Yet we have the great Anil Kumble thought of in just plebian terms. Anil was unplayable where as Warne was hit for a six by someone like Praveen Kumar ! While acknowledging the greatness of Warne, let us not play to the gallery and reserve purple prose for him alone. Kumble was and will always remain an all time great even if Warne gets all the praise all the time.

  • sushantsingh on April 19, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    brilliant article by the author ,but as usual indian fan are complaining about their player not getting the due. If they want to hear the praise of indian players they must go & watch hindi news channel who are always worshipping ONLY indian players . cricinfo is a global site & it should praise every good player. WARNE he is miles above the others & he has prove it once again.

  • Nipun on April 19, 2009, 4:10 GMT

    Warne was a treat to watch,but equally impressive were Rahul,Sachin & Anil.Rahul & Sachin played 2 tremendous knocks,especially Rahul,apart from Pietersen,looked to be the only batsman to be able to score runs in the 2nd game.Anil was also superb;you don't achieve figures of 5 for 5 without being a super bowler in T20s.

  • Tesladin on April 19, 2009, 3:17 GMT

    I find it ironic, and somewhat disheartening, that an article is written commending the wizardry of a man who feeds off of the limelight on the same day as when a man who prefers to keep a low profile, takes 5/5.

  • MaraudingJ on April 19, 2009, 2:40 GMT

    Along with Allan Donald, Shane Warne will forever be my favourite bowler to watch (having not had the privilege to see my other heroes, the West Indian pace attack of the 80s, and Michael Holding in particular). This is quite the confession coming from a South African, but who else has ever packed so much whizzing promise into every single delivery?

  • bhushan08 on April 19, 2009, 1:42 GMT

    Pardon me, but what is this fascination with Warne, he bowled well, I enjoyed watching but why ignore Kumble. I can say even the two wickets which warne took was due to inept batting - more qualified batsmen would not just have saved their wicket of those balls but also scored.

    Kumble has neven gotten his share of limlight and this is just another illustration of it. Sad

  • Ven.Kat on April 21, 2009, 5:23 GMT

    I agree with Sambit...Warne was just Amazing!!! Treat to watch!!!

  • Chedchatri on April 19, 2009, 19:43 GMT

    I think the people who say that Kumble isn't getting his due are totally missing the point! Nobody denies that Kumble is an all time great, but there is a difference between a great bowler and a genius. And make no mistake Warne is a genius of the highest order. Kumble has other qualities which make him a great bowler, but as far as I am concerned there has never been a spin bowler (leave alone leg spin) quite like Warne. The kind of drift and turn he was getting yesterday was really reminiscent of his best days. It was funny actually seeing batsmen like Kohli taking wild slogs and getting completely beaten all ends up. If they want to play shots like that against him they ought to take lessons from players like Lara and Sachin!

  • Charindra on April 19, 2009, 13:30 GMT

    Warne is a great bowler, but yesterday was not about Warne at all. It was about Dravid defying his critics, Kumble defying the odds and Pietersen defying the petty, disrespectful crowd. The pitch was spin friendly and that's the reason for the success of the spinners. Infact if Murali was selected to play Chennai may well have won the first game. But it's unsurprising that Warne gets all the accolades because all his playing life, he has been able to attract the media who love to romanticize his character flaws.

  • AT111 on April 19, 2009, 9:11 GMT

    To all those guys who are complaining about Sambit Bal concentrating mostly on Warne, remember, this is an article on Warne and not a news report of the matches. Obviously he is going to concentrate on Warne.

    If he had written about Tendulkar's fifty, one of these guys would probably have written complaining that Bal was ignoring bowlers like Warne who did well in spite of not playing regularly nowadays.

    Give the writer a break and just enjoy the article.

  • Percy_Fender on April 19, 2009, 5:22 GMT

    It is not surprising on a day when there were two performers for Bal to eulogise one and not mention the other. All their carreers long Warne has been written of much in the same manner all of blond hair and genius in his craft. Yet we have the great Anil Kumble thought of in just plebian terms. Anil was unplayable where as Warne was hit for a six by someone like Praveen Kumar ! While acknowledging the greatness of Warne, let us not play to the gallery and reserve purple prose for him alone. Kumble was and will always remain an all time great even if Warne gets all the praise all the time.

  • sushantsingh on April 19, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    brilliant article by the author ,but as usual indian fan are complaining about their player not getting the due. If they want to hear the praise of indian players they must go & watch hindi news channel who are always worshipping ONLY indian players . cricinfo is a global site & it should praise every good player. WARNE he is miles above the others & he has prove it once again.

  • Nipun on April 19, 2009, 4:10 GMT

    Warne was a treat to watch,but equally impressive were Rahul,Sachin & Anil.Rahul & Sachin played 2 tremendous knocks,especially Rahul,apart from Pietersen,looked to be the only batsman to be able to score runs in the 2nd game.Anil was also superb;you don't achieve figures of 5 for 5 without being a super bowler in T20s.

  • Tesladin on April 19, 2009, 3:17 GMT

    I find it ironic, and somewhat disheartening, that an article is written commending the wizardry of a man who feeds off of the limelight on the same day as when a man who prefers to keep a low profile, takes 5/5.

  • MaraudingJ on April 19, 2009, 2:40 GMT

    Along with Allan Donald, Shane Warne will forever be my favourite bowler to watch (having not had the privilege to see my other heroes, the West Indian pace attack of the 80s, and Michael Holding in particular). This is quite the confession coming from a South African, but who else has ever packed so much whizzing promise into every single delivery?

  • bhushan08 on April 19, 2009, 1:42 GMT

    Pardon me, but what is this fascination with Warne, he bowled well, I enjoyed watching but why ignore Kumble. I can say even the two wickets which warne took was due to inept batting - more qualified batsmen would not just have saved their wicket of those balls but also scored.

    Kumble has neven gotten his share of limlight and this is just another illustration of it. Sad

  • hTristan on April 19, 2009, 0:41 GMT

    Great writing Sambit, you know our game, and you know your readers.

  • ALLROUNDCRICKET on April 18, 2009, 23:58 GMT

    Sambit...Gotta Disagree with you there mate..VVS is Very Very Special on his day and Special on Any Occasion. Clearly you can't ignore his mastery of even Warnie. 281 Kolkata, 167 at the SCG, Adelaide, Brisbane et all. Surely an article on Warnie should not be one to denigrate the silken mastery of VVS, should it??

    Or are you one to succumb to the wiles of the Gora Sahib over your own desi bhais?? Methinks its the latter..........Shame on you mate, shame on you. No journalistic acumen there, in my humble opinion

  • bludayvil on April 18, 2009, 23:14 GMT

    @ sd1222 - No need to tear up, just get a PC.

    Warne you beaut! Great summary, Sambit, though Warne's superb catch to dismiss Dravid also deserves mention. Goes to show that the years do nothing to subdue superior talent and instincts.

  • Infin on April 18, 2009, 23:05 GMT

    Warne is a Genius, no doubt. He can still spin the ball a long way on any surface, perfectly read a batsman's mind and beat the best of them. But today, when he came in, half of the opposition was back in the dugout. So I dont understand whats so big about fooling the Kohlis and Akhils, that merited a full article by Sambit?! In contrast, there is no article on Cricinfo on the masterly innings by Dravid! What double standards? His was a classy, chance-less innings in the most adverse conditions, when all the stroke-makers perished. He came in at 3-17 and struck from the word go, scored at a brisk pace, held the innings together without support from anyone, didn't give up when wickets tumbled around him, played Warne beautifully, upped the tempo in the last overs and stayed there till the end. Still Sambit Bals and Victor Browns will not write about him. They will write about a patchy innings by Ganguly or Yuvraj anyday, or a steady performance by a Warne or McGrath. But not Dravid, No!

  • dardenv10 on April 18, 2009, 22:29 GMT

    Warne's wizardy lit up the day? Maybe I saw a different match where Dravid and Kumble (who often don't get their due from many people) took the game away from Warne's team. Warne is a great cricketer and deserves every accolade that comes his way. However to say that he was the dominant force in this particular match is to do a disservice to 2 other great champions

  • shabrez on April 18, 2009, 22:02 GMT

    Well...Masters at their best...Earlier Sachin and then Rahul, Warne and Kumble showing thr crafts.Ironically underestimated (T20)-Rahul, played a gem of a knock, then Kumble showed why he was number-1 Indian spinner.But treat to watch was Warne's leg spin bowling..Coming back to the match I wud say Rajasthan Royals will miss Kaif (provided he plays at his best), coz u need someone to stabilize the inning.Without Watson and Tanveer I dont see RR doing something remarkable this time. I still wonder why Warne compared Yusuf to Symonds, he to me is not a very clean striker of a bowl on slow pitches..and will struggle on such pitches...I guess India should give Abhishek Nayyar a chance in Twenty-20 WC,now at whose position will be a interesting questions.Anyway I will keep supporting R Royals and hope for the best.

  • Chinnabhandar on April 18, 2009, 21:55 GMT

    Yes. Nobody can deny what you have said about Warne. He is a true magician, immensely talented and the best leg spinner the world has ever seen. I did watch the match today and was not really expecting Warne to bowl that well (What a fool I am!). The deliveries which he bowled to get the wicket of Virat Kohli and Akhil reminded me of the two wickets that he took in the semifinals of the 99 world cup. He bowled very similar deliveries today and to do it after ten years is absolutely incredible. The flipper that he bolwed was another real beauty. It was so perfect in line, length and speed. It almost got him a wicket. He is a real GENIUS.

  • JKSFB on April 18, 2009, 21:49 GMT

    Could not agree more with Sambit. It was early in the morning here in California when Warne bamboozled Akhil. I got so excited that I dragged my wife who was sleeping at the time to come and watch the game because I felt such genius in action should not go unappreciated!!!

  • rayrana on April 18, 2009, 21:43 GMT

    It's good to see Kumble, Tendulkar and Dravid rule the first day. Way to show that T20 is not about ugly heave and manicly charging down the wicket. Would love to watch match winning innings from othe neglected and booted heroes like VVS and Ganguly

  • Kooja on April 18, 2009, 21:29 GMT

    Well before this article was penned, Shane Warne was an acknowledged genius of spin. Aptly called the sultan of spin, he has flummoxed many a batsman with guile, deception and sheer wizardry. That one innings Sachin played in India against Warne and reportedly hit him all over the park was a fluke. Every dog has its day and granted, Warne did not do well on that day, but on HIS day, he has great batsmen for lunch.

    Unfortunately for him, his behavior and his mouth cost him a lot more off the field, and that had a ripple effect. Whether one agrees or not, he is perhaps the best the game has ever seen. After all, cricket is not baseball since the blade is flat and by definition, is a batsman's game, unlike baseball where the opposite is true and to dazzle in a batsman's game is even more challenging.

    Jagan

  • dyogesh on April 18, 2009, 21:24 GMT

    Looks like this IPL will seperate the men from boys atleast amidst the batsmen. All and sundry might realise why a Dravid/Tendulkar are a class apart. Infact, one couldn't have had contrasting start. And the test starts for all the Asnodkars/Pathans ..

  • gauravk on April 18, 2009, 21:17 GMT

    I love watching him bowl. Wish he could play forever

  • 9aussiecricfan9 on April 18, 2009, 21:17 GMT

    Yes , those four overs were indeed magical. To think he didn't bowl until last week and then to do what he did today. Doff my hat to the guy.

    I've been mesmerised by the guy and his talent since the tour of the West Indies in 1995. Ever since then till the day he retired he remained the reason to support Australia. In 1998, I was at Chepauk when he got mauled by Sachin, but amongst the 1000's of Indian supporters, there I was an Indian wearing an ACB cap and cheering the Aussies - why ? Warne was bowling on the fourth day ! My nickname aussiecricfan is purely due to him.

    When he announced in retirement in 2006, I was shocked for days. I couldn't imagine watching cricket without Warne. Then , IPL was formed and he agreed to play. How long would he play, maybe next season. Then he'll be forever a memory - a memory that always makes me misty, for I've spent countless hours in front of the telly watching him weave his magic, time and time again..

    Thanks for everything Warne !

  • krik8crazy on April 18, 2009, 21:10 GMT

    Warne's bowling was sensational today. As always, his control, drift, and dip was exceptional. Bhajji also did great today, bowling with fire against his old enemy Mathew Hayden. Speaking of Laxman, he clobbered Warne's bowling when Warne was much younger, fitter and in better bowling form. Isn't that amazing?

  • AndrewHughes on April 18, 2009, 20:39 GMT

    Mr Bal, you have recreated the charm and the magic of watching Warne bowl today. A sensitive and finely judged piece of writing.

  • Prats6 on April 18, 2009, 20:19 GMT

    It was a treat to watch Shane Warne, an absolute honour ! The way he mesmerised the batsmen was just awesome ! He is the proverbial magician, who can literally pull the rabbit out of his hat all the time ! Just amazing.. could watch his overs today, over and over again !! He was reading the batsmen even before they were playing their strokes ! I am an Indian but I have to salute the man in appreciation .. He along with Rahul Dravid and then Anil Kumble & Sachin made my day ! But Warne was the real star today !

  • Winfried on April 18, 2009, 20:15 GMT

    Thank you, Mr. Bal. Fine article. I agree, and appreciate your writing.

  • sd1222 on April 18, 2009, 20:07 GMT

    How much we owe Sambit and Cricinfo for this? Miles away in New York where I have no access to cricket because the stream I paid for would not work for my Mac and I do not have DirectTV, you guys just brought the genius home. Yes, we must be grateful that Warne still is in our lives, and even though I did not see the game, I know what to visualise.

    Warne, you were and continue to be my hero. And it will be the saddest day to see you walk in the shadow. But know that every man who has refreshed a cricinfo page for the latest scores says Thank You! Damn, I am tearing up.

  • Rocket696969 on April 18, 2009, 20:06 GMT

    Indeed Shane Warne's wizadry is a sight to behold...we should all be grateful for the fact he is still playing competitive cricket, and at a standard still high enough to play on the International stage. It should not surprise anybody if he decides to come out of retirement for the Ashes.

  • anthonys on April 18, 2009, 19:57 GMT

    I dont understand why Kumble and Jayasuriya are left out? What is the obsession him? He's a cricketing genius but there are so many equally good cricketers ,in even the 2 games we just saw, with more decency and humility in their little fingers.

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  • anthonys on April 18, 2009, 19:57 GMT

    I dont understand why Kumble and Jayasuriya are left out? What is the obsession him? He's a cricketing genius but there are so many equally good cricketers ,in even the 2 games we just saw, with more decency and humility in their little fingers.

  • Rocket696969 on April 18, 2009, 20:06 GMT

    Indeed Shane Warne's wizadry is a sight to behold...we should all be grateful for the fact he is still playing competitive cricket, and at a standard still high enough to play on the International stage. It should not surprise anybody if he decides to come out of retirement for the Ashes.

  • sd1222 on April 18, 2009, 20:07 GMT

    How much we owe Sambit and Cricinfo for this? Miles away in New York where I have no access to cricket because the stream I paid for would not work for my Mac and I do not have DirectTV, you guys just brought the genius home. Yes, we must be grateful that Warne still is in our lives, and even though I did not see the game, I know what to visualise.

    Warne, you were and continue to be my hero. And it will be the saddest day to see you walk in the shadow. But know that every man who has refreshed a cricinfo page for the latest scores says Thank You! Damn, I am tearing up.

  • Winfried on April 18, 2009, 20:15 GMT

    Thank you, Mr. Bal. Fine article. I agree, and appreciate your writing.

  • Prats6 on April 18, 2009, 20:19 GMT

    It was a treat to watch Shane Warne, an absolute honour ! The way he mesmerised the batsmen was just awesome ! He is the proverbial magician, who can literally pull the rabbit out of his hat all the time ! Just amazing.. could watch his overs today, over and over again !! He was reading the batsmen even before they were playing their strokes ! I am an Indian but I have to salute the man in appreciation .. He along with Rahul Dravid and then Anil Kumble & Sachin made my day ! But Warne was the real star today !

  • AndrewHughes on April 18, 2009, 20:39 GMT

    Mr Bal, you have recreated the charm and the magic of watching Warne bowl today. A sensitive and finely judged piece of writing.

  • krik8crazy on April 18, 2009, 21:10 GMT

    Warne's bowling was sensational today. As always, his control, drift, and dip was exceptional. Bhajji also did great today, bowling with fire against his old enemy Mathew Hayden. Speaking of Laxman, he clobbered Warne's bowling when Warne was much younger, fitter and in better bowling form. Isn't that amazing?

  • 9aussiecricfan9 on April 18, 2009, 21:17 GMT

    Yes , those four overs were indeed magical. To think he didn't bowl until last week and then to do what he did today. Doff my hat to the guy.

    I've been mesmerised by the guy and his talent since the tour of the West Indies in 1995. Ever since then till the day he retired he remained the reason to support Australia. In 1998, I was at Chepauk when he got mauled by Sachin, but amongst the 1000's of Indian supporters, there I was an Indian wearing an ACB cap and cheering the Aussies - why ? Warne was bowling on the fourth day ! My nickname aussiecricfan is purely due to him.

    When he announced in retirement in 2006, I was shocked for days. I couldn't imagine watching cricket without Warne. Then , IPL was formed and he agreed to play. How long would he play, maybe next season. Then he'll be forever a memory - a memory that always makes me misty, for I've spent countless hours in front of the telly watching him weave his magic, time and time again..

    Thanks for everything Warne !

  • gauravk on April 18, 2009, 21:17 GMT

    I love watching him bowl. Wish he could play forever

  • dyogesh on April 18, 2009, 21:24 GMT

    Looks like this IPL will seperate the men from boys atleast amidst the batsmen. All and sundry might realise why a Dravid/Tendulkar are a class apart. Infact, one couldn't have had contrasting start. And the test starts for all the Asnodkars/Pathans ..