Shane Warne turns 48
A short walk, a leap and you see the ball whizz out of the hand, turning, bouncing and mesmerising batsmen. For 15 years, Shane Warne made international cricket's greatest batsmen look silly.
When Warnie came on to bowl, there was chatter, there was excitement and there was tension in the air. He was as aggressive as a fast bowler and as entertaining as they came.
Back in the golden era, you would pay to watch Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara bat but you would not mind paying a little more to see Shane Warne rip those leg-spinners out to bamboozle Mike Gatting with the ball of the century.
Muttiah Muralitharan has more international wickets than Shane Warne's 1001 but many across eras consider the Australian to be the greatest bowler of all time. Warnie would get the ball to turn anywhere he chose - in Australia, South Africa, England, West Indies, Asia, even a glass top.
Warne was also one for controversies. There were women, some more women and bad press. He is arguably the greatest captain Australia never had. A sharp cricket acumen and quick thinking helped him steer Rajasthan Royals to IPL glory in 2008.
There were dizzying heights in a glittering career: when he barged into the 700 wicket-club in Test cricket, nobody had imagined that was ever possible. Of course, Murali joined him there a few months later and finished with 800 but Warne was in a league of his own.
But there were lows as well. The 2003 World Cup was supposed to be Warne's swansong from one-day cricket. Australia, the defending champions, were expected to take home the World Cup again but the blonde leggie was thrown out of the tournament after a failed drug test. He claimed he had taken a pill given by his mother to lose the double chin. But it all ended in disgrace.
However, history will forever remember Shane Warne as the greatest entertainer the game has ever seen. He played with a cheeky smile, he played aggressively and he played to win. During his heydays, he was controversy's favourite child but the crowds loved him wherever he went.
Source: India Today