As an admitted “cricket tragic” I have been shocked by the sudden death of Shane Warne. Particularly so soon after the passing of Rod Marsh. It was my pleasure to have met both.
I accosted Warne when he was standing alone, having a smoke, beneath that spaceship like Media Stand at Lord’s. I don’t recall what we discussed, but he signed my Lord’s ticket as a memento for disabled daughter Kate. I met Rod Marsh a number of times when I was in the Committee Room at Adelaide Oval, where I was privileged to be a frequent visitor when my good friend Ian McLachlan was President of the South Australian Cricket association (SACA). On one occasion Rod and I spent much of the day together sitting in the little annex which adjoins the Committee Room. We discussed many issues and I was impressed with his considered thoughtful approach. I was also privy to a number of his ‘phone calls to Dennis Lillee with whom he was clearly still on very close terms.
I was at the SCG in January 1992 for Warnie’s first Test when another acquaintance, Indian opener and subsequent coach Ravi Shastri,made 206 before becoming Warne’s first Test wicket. Warne returned figures of 1/150 !
My Sydney biased cricket watching mates and I wondered who this blonde, over weight kid from Melbourne was and why the selectors had picked him. We didn’t expect to see him again! Fortunately, the selectors had better judgement.
His superb “cricket brain” was on display in the commentary box since retirement from the playing field. But, the Australian team benefited from it, together with his consummate skill as unquestionably the greatest leg-spinner the world has seen, throughout his playing career.
I particularly recall being present for that wonderful Adelaide Ashes Test in 2006. England scored 6 dec for 551 (Collingwood 206,Pietersen 158; Warne 1/167). Australia replied with 513 (Ponting 142, Clarke 124, Hoggard 7/109). England started the final day at 1/59 and a draw was expected.Warnie declared “we can win this” and proceeded to take 4/49 as England was dismissed for 129. To my mind the turning point was when Warne bowled Pietersen around his legs for 2. I recall declaring “‘Game On”! Australia needed 168 to win in 36 overs. In ‘one day match’ terms 4.7 runs/over- very achievable. With major contributions from Hussey and Ponting, Australia won by 6 wickets.
I will forever be grateful for the pleasure his contributions have brought to my obsession with the great summer game.