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The highs and lows of Shane Warne's cricketing career

From an underwhelming debut to captaining Rajasthan Royals to an IPL title and everything in between

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar
Shane Warne leads his team-mates out  •  Getty Images

Shane Warne leads his team-mates out  •  Getty Images

Australia great Shane Warne died of a suspected heart attack in Thailand at the age of 52. Here's a look at the highs and lows of the legendary legspinner's career, from his underwhelming debut to being named as one of Wisden's five Cricketers of the Century to captaining Rajasthan Royals to an IPL title.
1990 - A false start
Warne is released from the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide for disciplinary reasons.
January 1992 - Australia debut
He makes his debut against India in the fourth Test in Sydney. It's not a memorable outing as he finishes with figures of 1 for 150 from India's only innings. Ravi Shastri is his victim.
August 1992 - Breakthrough
The first Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo is delicately poised. Allan Border tosses the ball to Warne as Australia scrap to defend 181 on the fifth evening: in 5.1 overs, Warne picks up 3 for 11 to give Australia a 16-run win and to show them he belongs right here.
July 1993 - Ball of the Century
Bowling his first ball in an Ashes Test, Warne bamboozles Mike Gatting with a delivery that will forever be identified as the Ball of the Century. It is the perfect legbreak, drifting and dipping so much that it lands outside leg stump and spins all the way across Gatting to hit the top of off stump. Warne ends the series with 34 at 25.79 from six Tests - a legend is born.
1994 - A magical year
He is the highest wicket-taker in two of the three series he played in and the second-highest in the third, the Ashes. He takes a career-best 8 for 71 in Brisbane in the opening Test of the Ashes before picking up a hat-trick in Melbourne.
1995 - In trouble
Mark Waugh and Warne are fined by the Australia Cricket Board, now Cricket Australia, after admitting they supplied pitch and weather information to an Indian bookmaker. The ACB covers up the scandal, but the media exposes it three years later.
1996 - A great escape
It's the 1996 World Cup semi-final, West Indies are 178 for 4, just 30 runs short of a win when the magician Warne enters. He gets rid of Ottis Gibson, Jimmy Adams and Ian Bishop in quick succession to finish with 4 for 36 and give Australia an improbable win.
1996 - Under the knife
Warne requires surgery on his spinning finger, causing him to miss a short tour of India.
July 1998 - The scare
He undergoes reconstructive surgery on his bowling shoulder. Surgeons tell him he might never play cricket again.
March 1999 - In repairs
A first bump. Recovery from the shoulder injury has been slow and though he is vice-captain to Steve Waugh on a tour of the West Indies, he's dropped for the fourth and final Test of an epic series.
June 1999 - World champion
Warne starts the 1999 World Cup poorly but as the tournament enters its business end, he switches gears. In the legendary semi-final against South Africa at Edgbaston, he picks up 4 for 29 to help Australia tie the match and qualify for the final. In the final, his 4 for 33 helps bundle Pakistan out for 132 and clinch Australia their second World Cup title. He is Player of the Match in both games, and his 20 wickets in the tournament are the joint-most.
April 2000 - In stellar company
Less than a decade after his debut, Warne is selected as one of the five Cricketers of the Century by Wisden. With 27 votes, he is fourth on the list and the only active one among the top five - an indication of the impact he has had in such a short period. He's in a stellar company as well, alongside Don Bradman, Garry Sobers, Jack Hobbs and Viv Richards. In the previous month, he had become Australia's highest wicket-taker in Test cricket by going past Dennis Lillee's tally of 355 wickets.
2003 - The fall
Disaster, just as Australia prepare to begin their campaign to defend the World Cup title: Warne tests positive for diuretics, a banned drug, which he says he was using for weight loss. He's suspended by the Australian board for a year. The ban effectively ends his ODI career.
2004 - Redemption
Warne doesn't do low-key and on his comeback to Test cricket he wins a spin duel with Muthiah Muralidaran in Sri Lanka. In a three-match series, he picks up 26 wickets to help Australia whitewash the hosts despite being behind in each game. During the series, he also becomes the first spinner to take 500 wickets in Test cricket. Later in the year, during a historic series win in India, he becomes the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket, breaking the tie with Muralidaran, when he dismisses Irfan Pathan for his 533rd wicket. In the process, he helps Australia conquer the final frontier, with a series win in India.
September 2005 - Heroic in a lost cause
His greatest individual performance, in one of the greatest series of all time: the 2005 Ashes. In five Tests, he picks up 40 wickets, including bowling Andrew Strauss at Edgbaston with a ball that is often dubbed the Ball of the 21st Century. In the third Test, he becomes the first bowler to 600 Test wickets. He even contributes with the bat, making 249 runs at an average of 27.66; most of his runs come in at difficult situations. Despite all of it, though, Australia lose the Ashes 2-1. In all, picks up 96 Test wickets in 2005, the most by any bowler in a calendar year.
January 2007 - Farewell
Warne plays an instrumental role as Australia exact brutal revenge, whitewashing England 5-0 only for the second time in Ashes history. Warne picks up 23 wickets, including his 700th Test victim - Strauss bowled again at the MCG. He finishes with 708 Test wickets, a record at that time.
June 2008 - Captaincy, at last
Famously, Warne is believed to be the best captain Australia never had (although he led them in 11 ODIs). But post-retirement, he gets a chance with Rajasthan Royals, a Moneyball-inspired IPL franchise and, of course, he takes them to the title in the very first season. He's player, captain and coach and still a genius: he's the second-highest wicket-taker of the season with 19 scalps in 15 matches.
November 2015 - An unsuccessful venture
Warne and Sachin Tendulkar conceptualise All-Star T20 series involving retired cricketers, most of them the greats of the game. Warne captains "Warne's Warriors" against "Sachin's Blasters" in three exhibition games in the USA. The aim is to play matches around the world over a three-and-a-half-year period but no further series is held.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo