On this day: Shane Warne’s ‘Ball of the Century’

A young Warne pitched the ball outside leg, but the cherry took a turn and kissed Mike Gatting’s off stump.

Warne, an unknown quantity back in the day, had turned a few heads for his ear studs and funky hairdo.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

First Ashes Test in England, first-ball wicket — Shane Warne’s career couldn’t have been more dreamy. On June 4, 1993 — he took the world by storm redefining turn in spin science. A 23-year-old Warne cleaned up the legendary Mike Gatting with an unusual delivery that later earned the ‘Ball of the Century’ badge.

The ball, pitched outside leg, took a wild curve to kiss Gatting’s off stump leaving him stunned.

Gatting didn’t see it coming. He stood still for a while; even umpire Dickie Bird couldn’t believe what he experienced.

Richie Benaud, in his signature tone from the commentary box, analysed, “Gatting must have felt it perhaps hit the keeper and went back to the stumps. It was a perfectly pitched leg-spinner. I can understand Gatting disbelieving.”

Warne, an unknown quantity back in the day, had turned a few heads on his arrival in England. Not for his bowling, but for the ear studs and the funky hairdo. But the stylish leg-spinner from Victoria set the tone for the remainder of the series with his consistency.

England never recovered from the first Test shock.

He finished with figures of 4/51 and 4/86 in the first and second innings respectively. Australia won the Test by 179 runs and Warne was adjudged ‘man of the match’.

The tourist dominated the Englishmen and clinched the series 4-1. Warne was also the ‘man of the series’ as he ended with 34 wickets at an average of 25.79.

It has been 25 years, but the ball still remains a mystery.

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