|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
Pitch outside leg, take off stump, easy as pie
May 24, 2009
Manchester, 3 June 1993
As a legspinner, of much more modest pretensions, it was with special interest that I watched Shane Warne's first ball in a Test against England. He was bowling to Mike Gatting, the former England captain and a batsman famous for his ability against spin. There was a certain amount of field adjustment between Warne and Allan Border, his captain - long enough for onlookers to prepare themselves for this much-heralded blond bloke's first delivery in an Ashes Test.
He shuffled up: unprepossessing three- or four-pace run-up, nice sideways position, right arm snapping over in an exciting whirl. As the ball looped down, my first feeling was one of disappointment: it was headed down the leg side, a harmless start. Gatting obviously thought so too, and stretched forward slightly without quite getting to the pitch. The ball drifted even further down leg... and then it hit the turf. It fizzed back across Gatting - no mean feat - and clipped the top of off stump.
Gatt looked completely shocked; the wicketkeeper, Ian Healy, was half-amazed, fully elated; the crowd gasped, gobsmacked. And Warne looked as if he'd planned it that way all along. It was the ball that did the most to revive the fading art of legspin, and truly the Ball of the Century.
Steven Lynch is the editor of the Cricinfo Guide to International Cricket. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo MagazineFeeds: Steven Lynch
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ask Steven: Also, Vijay Manjrekar's nickname, Abid Ali's no-ball, oldest double-centurions, and this decade's leading players
Couch Talk: Former India batsman Chandu Borde reflects on his career as a player, mentor, manager and selector
Brendon McCullum's runs and leadership have rescued New Zealand cricket from its lowest ebb. By Andrew Alderson
Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss Adam Gilchrist's temperament
Beige Brigade: The boys discuss if Ryder can stay good for the summer, the West Indies pullout, and the Alternative Cricket Commentary's return
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala
Also, fewest boundaries in a T20 innings, most runs in a Test, England's international record-holder, and a pest named Fruitfly