Shane Warne's greatest hits

ESPNcricinfo staffers cast their minds back to Warne's most memorable spells

Shane Warne bowls during the MCG Test against West Indies, Melbourne, December 27, 1992

MCG. 1992. Warne picks up his maiden five-for in first-class cricket  •  ALLSPORT

Shane Warne played 145 Test matches. And 194 ODIs. He bowled 51,347 balls in international cricket overall. And picked up 1001 wickets; 708 in Tests and 293 in ODIs. Obviously, there were many extraordinary spells in there. Here are some of them.
7 for 52 vs West Indies, MCG, 1992
It was Warne's first Test at the MCG. Also his first Boxing Day Test. His hair dyed platinum blonde, his lower lip white with zinc cream, Warne made the most of a worn-out fifth-day pitch to undo the great work of Phil Simmons and Richie Richardson, who had put on 134 runs on the final morning. A quarter of an hour before lunch, Warne sent Richardson back with one that, in Michael Holding's words, "pitched off stump, kept low, and hit off stump". Carl Hooper was done in by big spin as he tried to pull over midwicket. After lunch, a legbreak that curled late sucked Simmons into a false shot. Warne was relentless as West Indies lost their last nine wickets for just 76 runs, of which Warne picked up seven - his last four coming for just three runs. It was his maiden five-for in first-class cricket. Playing only his fifth Test, Warne also won his first Player-of-the-Match award at his favourite venue.
- Nagraj Gollapudi
7 for 56 vs South Africa, SCG, 1994
One of the ultimate thrillers in Test cricket, for many South Africa players the match of their lives, especially Fanie de Villiers, who, along with Allan Donald, thwarted Australia as they failed to cross a 117-run target. The Test was memorable also for Warne's 12 wickets, including a seven-wicket haul in the first innings. He left the South Africa batters in a mess with his fast flippers, topspinners and whipping legbreaks. Most memorably, the wicket of Daryll Cullinan, who played from the crease against a flipper that zipped past and left his off stump swinging like a peg. Even the usually unflappable Richie Benaud was excited enough to say, "You can guarantee that Shane Warne has out-thought him there - shown the obvious flipper, let him pull it for four, and then slipped the other one in."
- Nagraj Gollapudi
8 for 71 vs England, Gabba, 1994
Back in the day, the follow-on was de rigeur. So, when, after England had folded for 167 in the first Test of the 1994-95 Ashes, Mark Taylor thumbed his nose at convention and chose to bat again for a lead of 508, the pundits were incredulous. By the close of the fourth day's play, with England finding new resolve to reach 211 for 2, there was the sniff of a famous escape in the air. Unbeknownst to those new to the art of legspin, however, the longer England endured, the surer their final demise became. Sure enough, as the pitch began to crumble and Warne's leggies began to bite, there was no place for England to hide. Eighteen months on from his sensational Ashes debut in 1993, his hold over the Poms was already absolute.
- Andrew Miller
7 for 23 vs Pakistan, 1995, Gabba
Warne's hold over England was legendary, of course; his record against Pakistan is not as celebrated, perhaps, but it was no less traumatising from the opponents' point of view. He had taken 18 wickets in Pakistan in the famous 1994-95 series, the first Tests he had played against them, but Saleem Malik and some others had played him well enough. But back home, a year later, and no chance. He reduced a solid-against-spin middle-order to rubble, on a ground that was hitherto a seam-bowling haven. He took 11 in the Test, marking the true beginning of an era of Australian dominance over Pakistan in which he would remain at the very centre.
- Osman Samiuddin
4 for 46 vs West Indies, 1996 World Cup semi-final, Mohali
West Indies were 165 for 2 chasing 208 to make it to the final. It was a cakewalk. Warne's great fast-bowling mate Glenn McGrath showed him a slight opening with the wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and Warne burst through by creating panic when there should have been none, chaos when things should have been straightforward, and wickets in the 45th, 47th and 49th overs.
- Sidharth Monga
4 for 29 vs South Africa, 1999 World Cup semi-final, Edgbaston
It had been six years since he had bowled that ball to Mike Gatting. The world knew by now what he had done and what he could do. He was himself contemplating retirement, struggling with injuries and being dropped in the West Indies. In this game, Australia had hardly a score to defend, South Africa were off to a great start, and one of the unbelievable runs in a World Cup was about to come to an end. And then Warne bowled a ball as good as the one to Gatting, except with a white ball on a one-day track and when in a personal rut. Then he dragged the team along with him into the final, which they won.
- Sidharth Monga
4 for 33 vs Pakistan, 1999 World Cup final, Lord's
It is testament to Warne's greatness that although he produced almost certainly the best back-to-back knockouts bowling performances in the history of the World Cup, this is some way down in the hierarchy of his achievements. Having bowled Australia to the final with 4 for 29 in an Edgbaston semi-final that was as fiercely contested as a game of cricket could be, Warne ripped through Pakistan in the final. He bowled Ijaz Ahmed with a big legbreak, had Moin Khan caught behind, got a big-sweeping Shahid Afridi lbw, then had Wasim Akram caught off a top edge. Pakistan were 132 all out, paving the way for the first of Australia's three successive World Cup victories.
- Andrew Fidel Fernando
5 for 74 vs Pakistan, Sharjah, 2002
The absolute zenith of Warne vs Pakistan. He took 27 wickets in this three-Test series, consigning Pakistan to one of their worst series defeats. The two Tests in Sharjah were played in inhumane heat, but Warne bowled over 50 overs in this last Test. It was an absolute road, and Warne - ever intuitive - didn't bend the pitch to his will. He just went along with it, a succession of those famed flippers, zooters, straighter ones, toppies, crashing quick and low into the pads. It was, in fact, a very Rashid Khan kind of spell, more than a decade before the Afghan would emerge as another legspinning hero.
- Osman Samiuddin
5 for 90 vs Sri Lanka, Kandy, 2004
Sri Lanka was, in some ways, the making of Warne. Back in 1992, he had gone wicketless in three of his four bowling innings, until he claimed three wickets in 13 balls to wipe out Sri Lanka's tail. In that match, they were all out for 164, chasing 181. In 2004, in his comeback series following a year-long suspension for taking a banned diuretic, he broke Sri Lankan hearts again. Sri Lanka were 319 for 7, with only 33 runs required for victory, when Warne dangled one up, tempting Chaminda Vaas to heave across the line. The batter was caught on the leg-side boundary. Soon after this, he trapped Kaushal Lokuarachchi lbw, before Jason Gillespie claimed the last wicket to seal the series 2-0. Where in 1992 Sri Lanka were only still figuring out the format, this five-wicket haul in Asgiriya had come against one of the best top orders Sri Lanka had assembled.
- Andrew Fidel Fernando
4 for 31 vs England, Trent Bridge, 2005
Warne was unequivocally the greatest match-winner in the history of Ashes cricket, and yet, nothing revealed his greatness quite like his response to impending defeat. By the fourth Test in 2005, Australia were cornered. The series was still level at 1-1, but after surviving at Old Trafford, they had now followed-on at Trent Bridge, whereupon his own innings of 45 from 42 balls had ensured at least a token target of 129. At 32 for 0 after five overs, England were cruising as he entered the attack… but not for long. Marcus Trescothick prodded Warne's first ball to silly point: 32 for 1. Michael Vaughan nicked a drifting legbreak to fall for a duck: 36 for 2. Andrew Strauss tucked another ripper straight to leg slip: 57 for 3. And when Brett Lee joined the hunt in a pace and spin onslaught, England were suddenly in danger of a shattering, Ashes-ending defeat. Geraint Jones then tried to take Warne on… and holed out to give him his fourth wicket in 12 overs, but on this occasion, the challenge proved just out of his reach. England, however, had once again been Warne-ed.
- Andrew Miller
4 for 49 vs England, Adelaide, 2006
If Test matches were crime scenes, then Interpol's forensic teams could spend the rest of the century trying to solve the heist of Adelaide 2006, but they would find not a trace of evidence from the most perfect cat-burglary of Warne's career. There was nothing about the match situation that gave any clue to the mayhem to come, as England resumed the final day on a serene 59 for 1, leading by 97, in the third innings. A bore-draw was nailed on, but when Strauss and Ian Bell fell in quick succession - to a dodgy decision, and an even dodgier piece of running between the wickets - Warne needed no further invitation to shin his way up the drainpipe. In a monstrous moment of hubris, Kevin Pietersen was bowled around his legs for 2, and thereafter England's game-plan was catatonic. Ashley Giles and Matthew Hoggard were rounded up meekly, and as the citizens of Adelaide trooped across the river to witness a Tuesday afternoon heist, Australia cantered to a victory target of 168, setting in motion the inevitability of a whitewash.
- Andrew Miller