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The spin genius with a soap-opera life... & style

Shane Warne mixed legendary cricket deeds with lurid headlines away from the pitch in a career as bewitching as his famed wrong 'un. Royal presence in IPL | Warne factfile

cricket Updated: May 21, 2011 02:28 IST

Shane Warne mixed legendary cricket deeds with lurid headlines away from the pitch in a career as bewitching as his famed wrong 'un.

Warne, who bowed out of professional cricket aged 41 on Friday, was never one for half-measures throughout his extraordinary 15-year Test career.

The greatest legspinner of them all carved out a flamboyant lifestyle cast outside the mould of a traditional cricketing icon, often putting himself at odds with the game's purists.

Vainglorious Warne did things his way and will be remembered for his dalliances and forthright opinions as much as for his pioneering 708 Test wickets in a 145-Test career.

Warne is entrenched in Australia's sporting pantheon - in the eyes of many he is second only to cricket's immortal Don Bradman.

Yet his achievements are tempered for some by his penchant for a zesty private life.

But Warne's contribution to cricket is inarguable, notably after he resurrected the waning art of leg-spin, became the first bowler to take 700 Test wickets and delivered the most famous ball in the sport's history. Warne posted inauspicious figures of 1-150 in his 1992 Test debut but knuckled down under spin guru Terry Jenner. Eighteen months later, Warne riveted the cricketing world with the "ball of the century" against England.

Warne's first leg-break delivery in an Ashes Test turned viciously to bamboozle England's Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993 that heralded the arrival of a cricketing superstar. He was a master of mind games, targeting batsmen ahead of a series and warning he was working on a new mystery ball to bowl out his "bunnies" in the opposition line-up.

He gave a man-of-the-match performance when Australia won the World Cup in 1999, and is known for a sharp and inventive cricketing brain which saw him long touted as Australian Test skipper.

But even Warne himself once described his life as a soap opera, such was the litany of off-field controversies.

"Warney", also nicknamed "Hollywood", survived drug and bookmaking scandals and pursued an energetic love life which is widely thought to have cost him the Australian captaincy.

And yet his performance in Australia's failed Ashes campaign in England in 2005 is regarded by some pundits as the pinnacle of his career, when he overcame his disintegrating marriage and a tabloid frenzy to take 40 wickets.

First Published: May 20, 2011 22:03 IST