May 18, 2011

The bold and bountiful

What words would you use to describe Shane Warne's legacy to cricket?
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"I mean, what are they gonna say about him, when he's gone, huh? What are they gonna say? Are they gonna say 'He was a kind man'? 'He was a wise man'? 'He had plans'; 'He had wisdom'? Bullshit, man!"

Legacy. Call it the l-word. Every egotist wants to leave one, and quite a few others besides. Then again, as Dennis Hopper's unforgettable lines from Apocalypse Now imply, precious few have ever had a) any concept of how to go about it or, b) any awareness that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot dictate how you are remembered.

Take Attila the Hun. The unfortunate chap doubtless fancied he was going to be canonised for terminating the Roman Empire but instead became a byword for sadistic ruthlessness. And what of WG Grace? What springs to mind when his name is invoked now - the runs and wickets and trailblazing superstardom or a shameless shamateur who felt he had a divine right to cheat?

Tony Blair was always banging on about how he wanted to shape his legacy, the inevitable consequence of which has, to date, been an unequivocal thumbs-down. Having had the good sense not to tempt fate and to keep reasonably schtum, Bill Clinton, on the other hand, has left footprints that promise to be debated for decades to come, forever teetering on the tightrope separating sex addict from unsung hero, forever coloured by perceptions of his immediate predecessor and heir. Even Andrew Strauss got into the act last week, revealing his desire to leave a legacy when he quits the five-day fray. He may wish the word had never escaped his lips.

So what of Shane Warne? Two recent headlines capture the duality of his legacy. In the Hindustan Times, "World Cup leggies honour Warne's legacy" heralded an article from AFP celebrating the legbreakers and wristy-twisty fellows who spent the tournament turning batsmen into gibbering wrecks - Shahid Afridi, Imran Tahir, Devendra Bishoo, and even Canada's Balaji Rao, whose less than svelte figure could be considered something of an homage in itself.

On the converse side of the coin was "Warne's legacy leaves Australia spinning out of control" from the website sport.co.uk, under which the agonies Andrew Hilditch and his fretful confreres have endured trying to find someone, anyone, to follow Warne's act were spelled out for the umpteenth needless time during the Ashes series. Trouble is, following that particular act is every bit as implausible and impossible a task as discovering a new frontman for the Rolling Stones or someone to script Othello 2: Desdemona's Revenge.

Like Muttiah Muralitharan and Sachin Tendulkar, Warne is an act apart. His peaks are more or less certain to survive every attempt to scale them. The same can be said of only four other cricketers, Don Bradman (batting average), Jack Hobbs (first-class runs and centuries), Jim Laker (wickets in a match) and Wilfred Rhodes (first-class wickets). Unlike the other members of cricket's modern holy trinity, let alone that unsurpassable quartet, Warne's troughs have been deep and conspicuous.

To be at Edgbaston in 1999, when he tormented South Africa's top order, was to witness the ultimate fusion of will and skill; to see him squirm in his seat at Australia's Johannesburg hotel four years later, as the world's media learned of his suspension for purportedly ingesting a diuretic supplied by his devoted mother, was to wonder why nobody had suggested he don a dunce's cap and stand in the corner. Don't get me started on those disgracefully ungallant comments about Murali.

Murali's action may still divide opinion like an axe splitting a watermelon, but that's as nothing to the unbudgeable black-and-whiteness of the pro- and anti-Warne camps. To some he's been the Messiah of spin, a rebel with a hell of a cause, the greatest Australian contribution to global culture since the Bee Gees, the personification of competitive artistry. Others, especially older Australians, see a larrikin, a beach bum, a source of embarrassment and even disgust, the very embodiment of insufferable cockiness.

It is tempting, as he faces the final curtain, to gloss over the bad and pour on the good, but judgement based on sentiment is never satisfactory. Another tack is required. So imagine being asked to write the inscription on his headstone.

Weighing his serial philandering against his charity work, you wouldn't immediately characterise Warne as a kind man. "Some kind of a man", Marlene Dietrich's gloriously ambivalent verdict on Hank Quinlan, Orson Welles' slobbering bent cop in Touch of Evil, won't quite do the trick either. Nor trusty standbys such as "gentle soul" or "noble spirit". Nor "Here lies a man", the grudgingly minimalist last words engraved on the last resting place of Sonny Liston, the boxer whose chief legacy was allowing Muhammad Ali to wrest his world title.

Like Muttiah Muralitharan and Sachin Tendulkar, Warne is an act apart. His peaks are more or less certain to survive every attempt to scale them. Unlike them, his troughs have been deep and conspicuous

Nor, instinctively, would you place the words "wise" and "man" next to each other, for all Warne's peerless mastery of the mind game. Yet look at how brilliantly he played his final scenes. Even the stage, India, was immaculately chosen. Long patronised as fodder for Tendulkar and pretty much any local who could hold a bat the right way up, he recast himself as both an inspirational captain and exactly the sort of walking, talking, couldn't-give-a-rat's-arse-what-anybody-thinks soul brother Lalit Modi had in mind as a promotional tool when he decided to entice over the planet's best to launch the IPL. Don't know about you, but that's what I call wisdom.

On reflection, however, the pun-soaked title of Roland Perry's 1999 biography does it best for me: Bold Warnie. Ian Botham, Kapil Dev and Andrew Flintoff may have sprung from the same mould, but none matched Warnie for flagrant defiance of caution, consistent mistrust of negativity and sheer quality of naked, cock-snooking boldness.

Abdul Qadir did his bit, of course, but it took Warne to give wrist-spin prospects of a global renaissance, to breathe infectious life into a comatose art seldom mastered outside the subcontinent - and yes, if we must lower the tone, to make it sexy. But for Warne, would Bishoo or Steve Smith or Scott Borthwick, Durham's up-and-coming leggie, have contemplated pursuing their modus operandi? The odds are forbiddingly long. But for Warne, would Saqlain Mushtaq have been inspired, perhaps compelled, to patent the doosra? Probably not. Without Warne, would Virender Sehwag have dared to bring his unique blend of aggression and stamina to the top of the order? Maybe, maybe not.

The abiding question is how good a Test captain that boldness could have made him. Victoria, Hampshire and Rajasthan Royals have often acclaimed his leadership, as did Ian Chappell recently while analysing the subject of Warne's foremost professional regret: "He empowered players by putting them in a position to have success. This then boosted them not only in the eyes of their team-mates but also in their own estimation. He also went out of his way to make junior players feel part of the team." Why the Rajasthan Cricket Association believes it has a case for defamation against Dean Jones for suggesting it should lick Warne's boots in gratitude should be way beyond any court's comprehension.

What cannot be doubted is that Warne the captain would have been a fillip for the longest format. No cause would have been lost, no gauntlet unthrown, no gamble untaken, no draw ever sought until all other options had been exhausted, no laugh unshared. It is the ICC and Cricket Australia who should harbour the most profound regrets.

But why dwell on the coulda-beens and shoulda-beens? Let's not be greedy. "Be natural, be yourself" read the fax Warne sent to a down-in-the-dumps Darren Gough in 1997, advice the Yorkshireman not only took to heart but ungraciously parlayed into Australian wickets. And whatever epithets you might hurl at the faxer, it is hard to imagine "hypocrite" and "fake" being among them.

According to my trusty Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary, "bold" has several meanings. How many apply to Warne? Let me count the ways. "Daring"? Tick. "Actively courageous"? Tick. "Executed with spirit"? Tick. "Striking to the sense"? Tick. "Forward or impudent"? Tick, tick. "Standing out clearly"? Has any cricketer ever stood out clearer?

Just think: now we can finally settle that deathless debate among grammarians over whether one should write "To boldly go" or "To go boldly". Much better to simplify matters and plump for a new verb altogether: "To Warne".

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on May 20, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    Hammond lara richards botham are all cricketers whose cricket will rise above anything else they may or may not have done off the pitch . Bradman is remembered as the greatest batsman of his generation rather than a puritan. Warne will be remembered as the greatest spin bowler of his generation if not of all time and for being the stand out player that gelled a truly great australian side . I will remember him also as the guy who dropped the ashes ( pietersen) oval 05 but never mind . His desire will and consistency from gatting to the end is without equal in any era . He brought spin to the fore at the time when four long run ups were getting boring . He has altered the course of cricket and in that context alone his legacy will last as long as the game istself

  • Dashgar on May 20, 2011, 6:32 GMT

    For the people saying gnana is an idiot, just take a look at the Aussie middle order. Ponting, Martyn, Lehmann, Bevan, Symonds. Tendulkar would have to have taken Martyns spot (which he would have), but every other player in there would beat Tendulkar for a spot at that time either for the captaincy, bowling or finishing they bring to the team. With Hayden and Gilly at the top of the order Sachin could not have made it as an opener. Sure Sachin top scored for the tournament, but if he was never selected he wouldn't have top scored

  • RohanBhalerao on May 19, 2011, 19:10 GMT

    Dude... What an article mate!!! I had tears in my eyes literally...

  • Quazar on May 19, 2011, 12:57 GMT

    Few points: 1) Too much to Warnie to just go with "Bold"... bowling genius, charismatic perfomer, absolute competitor, master tactician, inspirational leader (at RR)... and then the flawed aspects... 2) Without each other, giants like Warne, Murali, Lara, Tendulkar, VVS (in Tests), et al wouldn't be quite the giants they are... so it's quite silly to put one above the others. 3) Rob... there is such a thing as ridiculous hyperbole! And to attribute the existence / style / aggression of Saqlain and Sehwag To Warnie qualifies as such! 4) And Rob, why should any man lick another man's feet, regardless of genius?! And if you preach, start by practising! 5) To the ignoramus gnana... guess who earned the MVP prize at the 2003 WC? Not one of those magnificent (truly) Aussies... but the magnificent one from India.

  • devils13 on May 19, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    Warnie undoubtedly a true legend in the cricketing history..great smooth action and a tough cricketer mentally..like any other Aussie cricketer he tends to get under the skin of the opponent and try to agitate them until they yield...thats cricket a mans game...sledging,mental disintegration or what ever u call it...its a mans sport that the way it should be played

  • natmastak_so-called on May 19, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    @gnana cricket : laugh in front of mirror when you say top run scorer of 2003 world cup would not have made it into aussie team .Anyways ,warne famously had nightmares about someone.

  • natmastak_so-called on May 19, 2011, 9:03 GMT

    a great cricketer without any character certificate .

  • Biggus on May 19, 2011, 8:07 GMT

    @Cricket_theBestGame-Hayden's 380 (not 375) came in Perth, not Darwin mate.

  • Aussasinator on May 19, 2011, 7:58 GMT

    He will be judged differently by Australians and the rest of the world. 1. To the Australians, he was God of spin ( absolutely right). He was also more genuine than Murali ( an Aussie centric obsession, despite which Murali came out on top)! 2. To the English and South Africans, West Indians he was the magical , genius wicket taker who they could never counter. The genius is there but their inability to counter had a lot to do with their own ability and attitude as well. 3. To the Indians, he was easy meat, as a bowler. One cannot think or remember of even tailenders being troubled by him. There's no halo around him, but a lot of respect he's earned for his man management and captaincy skills in the IPL. A great captain. 4. To the Sri Lankans, he was a sledger, cheat and a moderate bowler. The Aussie media and captains used him as a centre to target Murali. 5. To me he is a simply great bowler and captain. Australia wouldnt have lost those 3 Ashes with Warne as skipper. Simple.

  • Cricket_theBestGame on May 19, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    i agree Charindra. why people mostly ausies keep bringing murlai into it??? and always the mention of SL dead tracks and playing against minows for his wickets. can anyone tell me is it murlai's fault that his opponents are Bangladesh, zimb or whoever?? let me remind you that haydons 375 (world rec at the time) came against a minow team called Zimbabwe in Darwin during the winter of aust. at the time everyone hailed it as the best ever innings blah blah until Lara got 400 ...no mention of minow then aey !!!!

  • on May 20, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    Hammond lara richards botham are all cricketers whose cricket will rise above anything else they may or may not have done off the pitch . Bradman is remembered as the greatest batsman of his generation rather than a puritan. Warne will be remembered as the greatest spin bowler of his generation if not of all time and for being the stand out player that gelled a truly great australian side . I will remember him also as the guy who dropped the ashes ( pietersen) oval 05 but never mind . His desire will and consistency from gatting to the end is without equal in any era . He brought spin to the fore at the time when four long run ups were getting boring . He has altered the course of cricket and in that context alone his legacy will last as long as the game istself

  • Dashgar on May 20, 2011, 6:32 GMT

    For the people saying gnana is an idiot, just take a look at the Aussie middle order. Ponting, Martyn, Lehmann, Bevan, Symonds. Tendulkar would have to have taken Martyns spot (which he would have), but every other player in there would beat Tendulkar for a spot at that time either for the captaincy, bowling or finishing they bring to the team. With Hayden and Gilly at the top of the order Sachin could not have made it as an opener. Sure Sachin top scored for the tournament, but if he was never selected he wouldn't have top scored

  • RohanBhalerao on May 19, 2011, 19:10 GMT

    Dude... What an article mate!!! I had tears in my eyes literally...

  • Quazar on May 19, 2011, 12:57 GMT

    Few points: 1) Too much to Warnie to just go with "Bold"... bowling genius, charismatic perfomer, absolute competitor, master tactician, inspirational leader (at RR)... and then the flawed aspects... 2) Without each other, giants like Warne, Murali, Lara, Tendulkar, VVS (in Tests), et al wouldn't be quite the giants they are... so it's quite silly to put one above the others. 3) Rob... there is such a thing as ridiculous hyperbole! And to attribute the existence / style / aggression of Saqlain and Sehwag To Warnie qualifies as such! 4) And Rob, why should any man lick another man's feet, regardless of genius?! And if you preach, start by practising! 5) To the ignoramus gnana... guess who earned the MVP prize at the 2003 WC? Not one of those magnificent (truly) Aussies... but the magnificent one from India.

  • devils13 on May 19, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    Warnie undoubtedly a true legend in the cricketing history..great smooth action and a tough cricketer mentally..like any other Aussie cricketer he tends to get under the skin of the opponent and try to agitate them until they yield...thats cricket a mans game...sledging,mental disintegration or what ever u call it...its a mans sport that the way it should be played

  • natmastak_so-called on May 19, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    @gnana cricket : laugh in front of mirror when you say top run scorer of 2003 world cup would not have made it into aussie team .Anyways ,warne famously had nightmares about someone.

  • natmastak_so-called on May 19, 2011, 9:03 GMT

    a great cricketer without any character certificate .

  • Biggus on May 19, 2011, 8:07 GMT

    @Cricket_theBestGame-Hayden's 380 (not 375) came in Perth, not Darwin mate.

  • Aussasinator on May 19, 2011, 7:58 GMT

    He will be judged differently by Australians and the rest of the world. 1. To the Australians, he was God of spin ( absolutely right). He was also more genuine than Murali ( an Aussie centric obsession, despite which Murali came out on top)! 2. To the English and South Africans, West Indians he was the magical , genius wicket taker who they could never counter. The genius is there but their inability to counter had a lot to do with their own ability and attitude as well. 3. To the Indians, he was easy meat, as a bowler. One cannot think or remember of even tailenders being troubled by him. There's no halo around him, but a lot of respect he's earned for his man management and captaincy skills in the IPL. A great captain. 4. To the Sri Lankans, he was a sledger, cheat and a moderate bowler. The Aussie media and captains used him as a centre to target Murali. 5. To me he is a simply great bowler and captain. Australia wouldnt have lost those 3 Ashes with Warne as skipper. Simple.

  • Cricket_theBestGame on May 19, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    i agree Charindra. why people mostly ausies keep bringing murlai into it??? and always the mention of SL dead tracks and playing against minows for his wickets. can anyone tell me is it murlai's fault that his opponents are Bangladesh, zimb or whoever?? let me remind you that haydons 375 (world rec at the time) came against a minow team called Zimbabwe in Darwin during the winter of aust. at the time everyone hailed it as the best ever innings blah blah until Lara got 400 ...no mention of minow then aey !!!!

  • slappinjax on May 19, 2011, 3:57 GMT

    Also don't forget Murali did not have to compete with Glen McGrath for wickets.

  • CricFan24 on May 19, 2011, 1:31 GMT

    One way to adjudge the impact cricketers have beyond their stats and their stature among experts, cricketers, in general people in the know,TV ratings when they play etc is....How much did the gallery CHANT their names. Very rudimentary yardstick , I know, but it does give you an idea -at least in the modern day. Started of with "Lillee..Lillee!!!" (one of the first truly great modern day fast bowlers)..Mcgrath had his add chants "Ooh, Aah Glenn Mcgrath".....But in ALL cricket history the 2 most heard chants on cricket grounds the world over are "SACHIN,SACHIN".....and "WARNEEEYYYY"...............That should tell you more than most things as to how these 2 transfixed more cricket lovers than just about anyone else in cricket HISTORY.

  • batbard on May 19, 2011, 0:36 GMT

    I'm sick of hearing how India dominated Warne in tests. You seem to suffer from selective memories. Yes, India dominated Warne as a kid just starting his test career and India didn't play against Warne in tests until after his shoulder reconstruction. India never played Warne at his peak when he had his full bag of tricks. Why didn't India not play Australia and the rest of the test nations? India was obsessed with One day cricket. India played against what I would call Warne Mark2. Warne Mark2 was a player from 2000 who had lost a lot his variations and was learning to play within his limitations after shoulder surgery. Warne was the greatest Legspinner, but without Abdul Qadir there wouldn't have been a Warnie. And don't forget Warne played the greater part of his Test career on pace bowler friendly pitches. The other two great spinners of his era didn't.

  • balajik1968 on May 18, 2011, 23:26 GMT

    The one thing about Warne was that he was character. A lot of his personal stuff was out in the open. Maybe Tendulkar is a character, but he guards his privacy fiercely. Having said that Warne was in the right place at the right time. He came in when the Aussie team was moving towards dominance and lent balance to their bowling. The big advantage he had was that he was part of a successful team, and that is why all his quirks are being appreciated. If he had been part of an under-performing team, the same people who lionize him would have had choice words for his flamboyance. As for Warne the Aussie captain, it is all in the realms of speculation. Actually I feel Ponting has done a decent job handling the transition. It was just that there was possibly a whole generation of lost talent in Australia and the players now available are not up to it.

  • on May 18, 2011, 23:10 GMT

    @gnana_cricket "Tendulkar would not have made it into the Aussie team that beat India in the 2003 final and every team that ever played cricket would have begged to have Warne in their team". --------------------------> Tendulkar was top scorer of that world cup. Anyone would be fool NOT to pick in his team. Aussies are not that foolish. Plus seeing the history between Tendulkar and Warne, if I have to chose I would go for tendulkar as tendulkar can play warne.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on May 18, 2011, 21:56 GMT

    A flawed genius? Sure. But a genius. As a cricket fan i'd rather marvel at the beautiful things he did and remember the buzz that went around a Test ground when he was getting ready to bowl. Quite rightly included as one of Wisdens 5 cricketers of the last century. Its been a pleasure to watch him play and i know i will never see his like again. As for the Murali comparison if you filter out all the extra wickets from endless Sri Lanka Tests against Bangladesh & Zimbabwe and allow for the fact that a spinner playing half his Tests in Sri Lanka compared to Australia has a major advantage there is no comparison.

  • FitzroyMarsupial on May 18, 2011, 20:52 GMT

    I read all your articles Rob and enjoyed them all. This is by some distance the best for a while. Thank you.

  • Charindra on May 18, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    3 points I want to make as a response to some comments. 1. Somebody mentioned Murali's 176 wickets against Bangladesh. Funnily nobody mentioned Murali's 110 odd wickets against England in just 16 matches! Just imagine if he had played 10 matches against Eng every 2 years, like Warne was lucky enough to. 2. The Ashes 2005 was the series played latest in the English summer, where wickets were turning square. Even Ashley Giles bowled a "Ball of the Century" in that series and got a lot of wickets. It's the same kind of pitch that Murali got 16 wickets vs England in 1998 in ONE test match. 3. Murali has done better against India than Warne. Let's not talk about Murali's record against Aus (world champions) because Warne never had to play them and if he did he probably would have got hammered. He always gets hammered when he bowls to Hayden, Gilly etc in club or state matches. 4. This article is about Warne. Therefore I shall shut up about Murali. :)

  • bala-chala on May 18, 2011, 18:58 GMT

    Greatness is a term that has been used too loosely and none more so than people in the sub-continent. If I were to estimate Warne's greatness in one sentence "Tendulkar would not have made it into the Aussie team that beat India in the 2003 final and every team that ever played cricket would have begged to have Warne in their team".

  • Aloke_Mondkar on May 18, 2011, 17:48 GMT

    I can understand the debate between Warne and Murali but how anyone can compare Kallis and Flintoff is beyond me. Comparing Kallis and Imran is unfair as they were different types of allrounders (batting vs. bowling) but Flintoff (with all due respect to the 2005 Ashes performance) was not fit to untie Kallis's shoe laces.

  • junzzz on May 18, 2011, 17:17 GMT

    warne was the best fighter on the pitch.....never ran out of ideas......kept comming back at batsmen.......and always never gave up.......i miss warne alot.....glad that i got to see warne,,,,wasim,,,,,sachin,,,,,imran,,,,shewag,,,,lara....waqar,,,,,arvinda desilva ...inzi....mindad.....dravid.....and......gilchrist......... in my life time.......these players are just amazing......forgot about kallis.....

  • pakcriccrazy on May 18, 2011, 16:32 GMT

    well i would remenber warne as a great bowler who really brought the glamour into cricket and all and about imran (just go look at his average and then say whether hes a legend or not) plus he really got pak cricket on the map

  • Undergrounded on May 18, 2011, 16:31 GMT

    @rohan024: Imran not in anyone's dream team??? You gotta be kidding me! Do you have an idea of the charisma he had? Ever seen the legends of cricket? Ever checked the 2nd choice Cricinfo World XI? If it weren't for Sir Gary Sobers as a competitor, Imran Khan would have been the automatic all rounder pick for the 1st choice Cricinfo World XI. @Article: Shane Warne's second coming in the IPL surely showed the management and leadership potential he had and that Australia could never benefit from, especially when he led the underrated Royals to IPL1 title with an ordinary team who no one thought had the potential to do so.

  • on May 18, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    nice article steen...@charindra..very well said!!...

  • Beazle on May 18, 2011, 15:12 GMT

    The more perceptive reader will note that the author rightly speaks of the unending controversy about Murali's ACTION - but when he speaks of Warne's controversy it concerns his character -and not his cricket.

    Therein lies the difference. Warne is the greatest bowler I have ever seen in 50 years of watching cricket all over the world -of that I have no doubt. As a person -well -lets just say, thats not particularly relevant to me.

  • on May 18, 2011, 14:52 GMT

    Sometimes Statistics cant show you the real picture.. neither can a players act outside the field... Its what Shane Warne did on the field that matters..... In 2005 facing a rejuvenated England team, with the main fast bowlers either injured or out of form, it Warne who kept Australia in the hunt.. Who can forget those long spells he kept on bowling keeping the scores tight while picking up wickets.... that ball at Strauss he bowled at Edgbaston with just a 5 over old bowl..... And he did all those after just being divorced and what a high profile divorce that was!! Come 2007 Adelaide, how he got Australia a win from the jaws of defeat..... He was a champion like no other... a cricketer when it was all said and done could actually get the ball and did what the team needs....

  • amir-test-cricket on May 18, 2011, 14:48 GMT

    @ rohan024 this is warny article and i want to keep it that way ..... whether imran is legend or not , better go and ask your elders who saw him playing , i doubt guys like you actually know anything about cricket . sanjay manjreker said "imran is like god to me" , go and ask your legends i.e gavasker tendulker kapil and they will tell you better .

    by the way ... murli come no where near to warny ... no one can .. he is one in million... enough said

  • bigwonder on May 18, 2011, 14:31 GMT

    It is over crediting Warne for even asking "Without Warne, would Virender Sehwag have dared to bring his unique blend of aggression and stamina to the top of the order?" Keep in mind, Warne was successful under a very strong team that had big hitters, good pace bowlers. All Warne had to do was choke the runs from other end and get wickets. I am not trying to take credit away from Warne as he was a good spinner bu the author is going overboard with credits to Warne. @Sportscityferret, I agree with you, Warne is the smarter one, he got Liz and $$ compared to Punter.

  • on May 18, 2011, 14:06 GMT

    Whatever he may have done... lets remember him as the man who rekindled worldwide interest in leg spin bowling... definitely the greatest leggie of all time

  • on May 18, 2011, 13:27 GMT

    The article would start a host of debates - some devoted subcontinental fans would go "Tendulkar and co. mastered him .. Murali or Saqlain were better" .. SL fans would be indignant that Warne could be held higher than Murali. IND fans would be mad that Sehwag's talent is equated to the chutzpah Warne brought to test cricket.. and PAK fans would go mad that despite Qadir, he gets the credit for rebirth of leg-spin. The fact remains .. with due respect to incredible gifts of all aforementioned ( in particular the "legacy" of Sachin and Murali) .. on song - Lara and Warne were two cricketers who were a compelling watch. Their skills were immense, but their sense of theater was what made their performances riveting! As good as his stats are .. the way Warnie owned a game is what made legspin, and cricket at large watchable! --- SUPERLIKE!

  • amir-test-cricket on May 18, 2011, 13:20 GMT

    @ Deepanjan Datta best lines on page "with due respect to incredible gifts of all aforementioned ( in particular the "legacy" of Sachin and Murali) .. on song - Lara and Warne were two cricketers who were a compelling watch. Their skills were immense, but their sense of theater was what made their performances riveting" you nailed it brother

  • Aloke_Mondkar on May 18, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    I have been lucky to see many great cricketers since I began following cricket in the late 80s. I have seen absolutely great batsmen like Lara, Sachin and Ponting..brilliant fast bowlers like Ambrose, Akram and McGrath and obviously fantastic spinners like Murali and Warne. However, one thing that set Warne apart from the others for me was the fact that I could see him think everytime he walked up to bowl. An absolute legend and the fiercest competitor I ever saw. Warne - you will be missed terribly but thanks for everything. It was great while it lasted.

  • postandrail on May 18, 2011, 12:32 GMT

    dilanz51 Murali played 25 Tests against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe for 176 wickets! Warne played 4 Tests for 17 wickets. Does anyone believe those two teams are Test standard? They couldn't beat many English County or Australian State Teams. Subtract those nonsense Test wickets from their respective totals and how do their records compare?

  • dtnair on May 18, 2011, 12:04 GMT

    Warne was a very good leg spinner. But his record in India is pathetic with even first class cricketers carting him around. would he have done as well if somebody like Mcgrath was not around? Has Warne ever done what Harbhajan could do against the Aussies in 2001? Also, after watching some highlights of the 2005 Ashes, I think Warne would not have done as well if DRS had been around.

  • themightyfenoughtys on May 18, 2011, 11:36 GMT

    As with George Best, where did it all go wrong. All he ends up with is Liz Hurley and buckets full of IPL cash rather than a wardrobe of MCC blazers and the Australian captaincy.

  • Dashgar on May 18, 2011, 11:12 GMT

    The very fact 34 wickets in 9 tests at 43 is an "India nightmare" shows just how good Warne was. Murali had 12 wickets in 5 tests at 75 in Australia but a lot less seems to be made of that. Unlike Murali Warne never has excuses made for him, and I'm sure he wouldn't have it any other way.

  • Dashgar on May 18, 2011, 10:56 GMT

    The greatest thing I can say about Warne the player, that I cannot say about any other. He was never left without ideas. He was never completely beaten. There was always fight left in him even when things went poorly like they did at times in India. Every other bowler and batsman I've ever seen (Murali/Sachin included) have gone through patches where they have been utterly beaten by their opponents. Warne never got to this point, even when he wasn't getting wickets he found new ways to put on pressure, new angles to attack from. He was an artist, he was a showman, but on top of that he was utterly resilient.

  • Bobby_Talyarkhan on May 18, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    The gr8est. end of........

  • Charindra on May 18, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    Sangakkara said that the only song that captures Warne is Sinatra's "My Way". That is probably the greatest, and most accurate compliment anybody has ever paid him. Other writers either gloss over the bad or fail to appreciate the good adequately. I don't care about his womanizing or anything about his personal life. It's "personal life" for a reason. I loved watching him bowl, in the same way I loved every page in the Potter books where Voldemort appeared. There was never a dull moment with Warnie around, even when nothing much was happening. But he got truck loads of wickets against England and SA, made a habit of verbally intimidating batsmen and umpires alike, and had a fantastic support cast in the Aus bowlers and batsmen. These things indirectly got him a lot of wickets. But still he was one of the finest spinners ever, and the greatest showman since W.G. But still Murali is the greatest bowler ever. But I'll miss Warne! The world needs anti heroes. Too many good guys are boring!

  • BillyCC on May 18, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    Warne is the greatest spinner to play the game. I was in the Murali camp until last year when having dug deeper into the statistics, it was clear that Warnes figures stack up more than first thought and his persona, game and presence put him clearly above.

  • on May 18, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    I'd be surprised if I saw his like again in my lifetime...Australia waited over 50 years for the next Bill O'Reilly, and eventually found him in Warne. The best leg spinner I have ever seen, by a wide margin.

  • rohan024 on May 18, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    @Ammar Bakhsh - Imran a legend ? Well may be for pakistani fans but not for the rest of the world. Imran doesn't figure in anyone's dream team, plus his peak was for 2-3 years and thats about it...

  • paulmj19 on May 18, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    The Bee Gees are British not Australian. They moved down under as boys and moved back to make it big in the 60's. The Bee Gees even say that they are from Manchester not Australia!

  • cheekysingle on May 18, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    I am a fan of your writing Mr. Steen, but it's a tad preposterous to suggest that Warne inspired the likes of Saqlain to develop the doosra. I, like many other Indians and Pakistanis, believe that Saqlain was a man of substantial talents and was fully capable of developing his own arsenal. Also, Sehwag opening the innings has absolutely nothing to do with Warne's influence on the cricketing world. It was a crowded Indian middle-order that forced him to play the new ball, and I think we would all agree that he's done rather well. There's no doubt that Warne made leg-spin bowling sexy, but let's not go overboard in trying to script a poetic eulogy.

  • jessiedog on May 18, 2011, 8:57 GMT

    you are right about Kallis and Flintoff been in comparible.... Have it round the wrong way!!! Flintoof lived of his efforts in the winning ashes series in England, which was v impressive. But in terms of contributions to a team cause and effort over time Kallis has no pear in the modern game bar none!!

  • Rahul_78 on May 18, 2011, 7:38 GMT

    Ian Chapell quoted Warne in his previous article,' Ï may be a shit husband but I am a good father' that in a nutshell summed up warne the person. Warne the cricketer was the same..a magician with the ball, a brilliant cricketer with an aura and a astute captain as he proved in IPL and a wonderful, wonderful mentor to young cricketers. But off the field with his text sms's , comments about compatriot spinners and other misadventures he never proved to be an ideal role model for young kids like Tendulkar. There have always been a two sides to warnies story...but as a cricket tragic my memories of warne will always be of that zipping leg break that pitched a mile outside leg and took the bell of Gattings off stump...Cheers to the the champion!

  • hraghava on May 18, 2011, 6:59 GMT

    "No cause would have been lost, no gauntlet unthrown, no gamble untaken, no draw ever sought until all other options had been exhausted, no laugh unshared".. Superbly articulated Rob! Lara was the flawed genius, Murali the freakish genius, Sachin the icily effective genius, each totally brilliant - then Warne the genius will go down as the combination of all of these! Let's please forget the comparisons and who-mastered-who; and thank our stars that these four magnificent sportsmen graced the game in the same era. One wonders if we will see such a time again.

  • on May 18, 2011, 6:48 GMT

    This article is about Warne's legacy - not who is a better spinner or a more influential cricketer. But then again comprehension isn't the strongest suite among a majority of cricinfo's readers. On topic: Warne will be missed. He is among the greatest wicket takers I've seen and I count it as a blessing that I got to see him at his peak. Or should that be 'peaks' - because he had as many of those as he did troughs. In that sense, he is closer to Lara than, say, Tendulkar (who I'd compare with Murali): there'd be inexplicable moments of madness as there would moments when the whole world can go to hell but you don't care because you have a man of incomparable skill raising the game you love to the kind of artistry you imagine it deserves. And Warne did that many times. Good night and good luck, Shane. You are one in a million.

  • deanjones145 on May 18, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    the debate of who is the best spinner, should be left for an other article this article talks about: What words would you use to describe Shane Warne's legacy to cricket

    and ultimately you have to say that he revitalised cricket. In the early 90's cricket was dying, 4 pace attacks, low attendance levels, boring cricket, warnie bought excitement to cricket, go people talking, got people into the grounds, got people wanting to bowl like him

    as a person, he has been very questionable, but what he has done to the game, is aboe anyone else

  • CricFan24 on May 18, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    A few innings highs do not a career make. All the other cricketers mentioned have records which speak of SUSTAINED excellence , not a few innings. A Sehwag may have moments such as his run-a-ball Triples which are unmatched. But who would place him in the very top echelon?? A career is to be judged on just that - a CAREER. A few isolated instances may stick in the mind, but in ANY "Greatest" debate the cricketer with the greatest Career must be placed at the Very Top.

  • sramesh_74 on May 18, 2011, 6:07 GMT

    Warne is definitely the greates spinner of all time...exception being, his Indian nightmare never ended till he hung up his boots..Ravi Shastri started it and Sachin took it forward.

  • Sreerang on May 18, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    Its a pity, if after all these words, all you have to say is that Warnie is 'bold'. I would definitely like to believe he has left a lot more than just boldness as his legacy. A great leg spinner(obvious), who entertained and endeared everybody (well, almost) with the way he played his game, deserved a better article. And in spite of all his mistakes (or blunders), he still was never known or accused as a cheater as some of illustrious colleagues have been.

  • prashant1 on May 18, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    SHANE WARNE = NUMERO UNO

  • on May 18, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    you cant compare stats to judge a player .............. take Kallis and Imran , the former has better records than Imran but never , never will anyone put him in Imran's rank or even Flintoff's , Shane Warne is a bloody blonde legend , murli was great , but Warne just brought spin bowling to whole new level ................ he changed the game as we know it . Players like Imran , Warne, Lara are legends cause they for one took the game to whole new level ......... more non-cricket fans know of them than any other player, that settles the dispute who is great.

  • nlambda on May 18, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    Warne will be remembered as a genius leg spinner with a colourful, immature personal life. Enough said. Frankly, his womanizing is secondary to the fact that he won MOM in both the WC semi-final and final and was the first to 700 test wickets and bowled those balls to Gatting, Strauss, Gooch and Basit Ali.

  • MinusZero on May 18, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    Well said dilanz51. Also I never heard of Murali's mum taking diuretics or problems with Joe the cameraman :)

  • alev on May 18, 2011, 5:13 GMT

    As ever, a well written and thought-provoking piece. For me, his bringing legspin out into the main stream of cricket will be his lasting legacy. Good work Rob!

  • kriskingle on May 18, 2011, 4:55 GMT

    Great piece as always, Rob, but two points. First: the leap from Attila the Hun to Dr.Grace was, in a word, reaching. You left out Alexander and Napoleon in their quest to establish their own legacy, and if anybody in history came close to achieving their aims, it was these last two. Second, about Warne's abiding captaincy question: As an extension of the legacy debate, perhaps, as some have suggested, this is Warne's parting gift to CA-the lingering feeling of 'what if?'. A more interesting thought excercise is how Warne would have presided over the current crisis in Australian cricket, or indeed, whether it would have come to pass, assuming he had the captaincy and support of the selectors. If CA look the honest answer in the face, then they will realise that not handing the captaincy to Warne could have been the real omission that started the decline.

  • avidfan on May 18, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    murali sure is better than warne at taking wickets but warne has leadership skills that would put ricky ponting to shame... they should have opted for warne to be captain instead of ponting..surely he would have done a better job with a less talented team rather than crash an burn like ponting... also he would have molded a new generation at the same time...

  • on May 18, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    The article would start a host of debates - some devoted subcontinental fans would go "Tendulkar and co. mastered him .. Murali or Saqlain were better" .. SL fans would be indignant that Warne could be held higher than Murali. IND fans would be mad that Sehwag's talent is equated to the chutzpah Warne brought to test cricket.. and PAK fans would go mad that despite Qadir, he gets the credit for rebirth of leg-spin. The fact remains .. with due respect to incredible gifts of all aforementioned ( in particular the "legacy" of Sachin and Murali) .. on song - Lara and Warne were two cricketers who were a compelling watch. Their skills were immense, but their sense of theater was what made their performances riveting! As good as his stats are .. the way Warnie owned a game is what made legspin, and cricket at large watchable!

  • Woody111 on May 18, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Of all things, the first comment found here is about Murali! Get over it for god's sake. Who cares about that debate now. This article is about Warne so if people want to focus on other players, play their 'if your team came to play my team right now' rubbish leave it for the appropriate forum. I have never really liked the image Warne projected as a person but really I've never cared. Sure he may be Aus' best captain we never had, maybe even the 2005 Ashes would have gone differently (but of course maybe we would have lost by more) but as with any sportsman all you can ever do at the end of the day is judge them on what they did on the field. Countless notable athletes have or do run charities and of course it's great to see such people use their money and notoriety in such a way. But this is almost mandatory for professional sportsmen now due to the salaries they command. Warne could spin a ball a long way. For a seemingly impatient person he was a very patient bowler.

  • dilanz51 on May 18, 2011, 3:02 GMT

    If people still think that murali is chucking..I would request all of them to see this video This is proof that murali doesn't chuck...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EClrWy-Ms0s.

    If people still think warne is better than murali I would tell them to compare each others records.Murali is the highest wicketaker in both forms of the game.that should settle that debate.

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  • dilanz51 on May 18, 2011, 3:02 GMT

    If people still think that murali is chucking..I would request all of them to see this video This is proof that murali doesn't chuck...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EClrWy-Ms0s.

    If people still think warne is better than murali I would tell them to compare each others records.Murali is the highest wicketaker in both forms of the game.that should settle that debate.

  • Woody111 on May 18, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Of all things, the first comment found here is about Murali! Get over it for god's sake. Who cares about that debate now. This article is about Warne so if people want to focus on other players, play their 'if your team came to play my team right now' rubbish leave it for the appropriate forum. I have never really liked the image Warne projected as a person but really I've never cared. Sure he may be Aus' best captain we never had, maybe even the 2005 Ashes would have gone differently (but of course maybe we would have lost by more) but as with any sportsman all you can ever do at the end of the day is judge them on what they did on the field. Countless notable athletes have or do run charities and of course it's great to see such people use their money and notoriety in such a way. But this is almost mandatory for professional sportsmen now due to the salaries they command. Warne could spin a ball a long way. For a seemingly impatient person he was a very patient bowler.

  • on May 18, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    The article would start a host of debates - some devoted subcontinental fans would go "Tendulkar and co. mastered him .. Murali or Saqlain were better" .. SL fans would be indignant that Warne could be held higher than Murali. IND fans would be mad that Sehwag's talent is equated to the chutzpah Warne brought to test cricket.. and PAK fans would go mad that despite Qadir, he gets the credit for rebirth of leg-spin. The fact remains .. with due respect to incredible gifts of all aforementioned ( in particular the "legacy" of Sachin and Murali) .. on song - Lara and Warne were two cricketers who were a compelling watch. Their skills were immense, but their sense of theater was what made their performances riveting! As good as his stats are .. the way Warnie owned a game is what made legspin, and cricket at large watchable!

  • avidfan on May 18, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    murali sure is better than warne at taking wickets but warne has leadership skills that would put ricky ponting to shame... they should have opted for warne to be captain instead of ponting..surely he would have done a better job with a less talented team rather than crash an burn like ponting... also he would have molded a new generation at the same time...

  • kriskingle on May 18, 2011, 4:55 GMT

    Great piece as always, Rob, but two points. First: the leap from Attila the Hun to Dr.Grace was, in a word, reaching. You left out Alexander and Napoleon in their quest to establish their own legacy, and if anybody in history came close to achieving their aims, it was these last two. Second, about Warne's abiding captaincy question: As an extension of the legacy debate, perhaps, as some have suggested, this is Warne's parting gift to CA-the lingering feeling of 'what if?'. A more interesting thought excercise is how Warne would have presided over the current crisis in Australian cricket, or indeed, whether it would have come to pass, assuming he had the captaincy and support of the selectors. If CA look the honest answer in the face, then they will realise that not handing the captaincy to Warne could have been the real omission that started the decline.

  • alev on May 18, 2011, 5:13 GMT

    As ever, a well written and thought-provoking piece. For me, his bringing legspin out into the main stream of cricket will be his lasting legacy. Good work Rob!

  • MinusZero on May 18, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    Well said dilanz51. Also I never heard of Murali's mum taking diuretics or problems with Joe the cameraman :)

  • nlambda on May 18, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    Warne will be remembered as a genius leg spinner with a colourful, immature personal life. Enough said. Frankly, his womanizing is secondary to the fact that he won MOM in both the WC semi-final and final and was the first to 700 test wickets and bowled those balls to Gatting, Strauss, Gooch and Basit Ali.

  • on May 18, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    you cant compare stats to judge a player .............. take Kallis and Imran , the former has better records than Imran but never , never will anyone put him in Imran's rank or even Flintoff's , Shane Warne is a bloody blonde legend , murli was great , but Warne just brought spin bowling to whole new level ................ he changed the game as we know it . Players like Imran , Warne, Lara are legends cause they for one took the game to whole new level ......... more non-cricket fans know of them than any other player, that settles the dispute who is great.

  • prashant1 on May 18, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    SHANE WARNE = NUMERO UNO