This day that year - Shane Warne’s ‘Ball of the Century’ completes 25 years
It was Shane Warne’s first ball in an Ashes series and he established his reputation as one of the game’s finest bowlers by sending Mike Gatting back to the pavilionUpdated: Jun 04, 2018 14:49 IST
There’s hardly been a cricketing discussion on spinners that hasn’t had the name Shane Warne mentioned at least a couple of times. With over a 1000 wickets in the Test and ODI formats combined, Warne is regarded as arguably the greatest leg-spinner to have graced the 22 yards.
With his googlies as vicious as his leg-breaks, Warne wasn’t easy to read and the pinnacle of his skills was witnessed for the first time in his maiden Ashes series against England in 1994. Before that tour, Warne had played in 10 Tests but only managed to pick 31 wickets, including figures of 1/150 in his debut Test against India.
England had gotten off to a fantastic start with a 71-run opening stand between Graham Gooch and Michael Atherton. When the latter fell to Merv Hughes, Mike Gatting stepped in and Allan Border handed over the ball to Warne.
The first ball Gatting faced became renowned as the ‘Ball of the Century’ with the cherry turning in sharply from way outside off-stump to remove Gatting’s leg-stump. It had pitched on the rough and spun back viciously to leave Gatting dazed for a while. He had stretched his foot to meet the ball but missed it completely to see his timber shaken.
Warne went up to pick seven more wickets in the match and owing to figures of 8/137, was adjudged as the Player of the Match as Australia beat England by 179 runs.
Twenty-five years to that achievement, the International Cricket Council released a snippet of Warne speaking on the incident, terming it as nothing but fluke. “As a leg-spinner, you always try to bowl a perfect leg-break every ball and I managed to do it first up which was pretty, like I said, was a fluke really,” he said. “It sort of changed my whole life really back on the field and off the field. It was one of those deliveries which all leg-spinners want to bowl and I am proud that I have bowled it, especially to someone like Mike Gatting, who was a fantastic player.”