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Ball of the Century

Shane Warne's 'Ball of the Century' turns 25

Australia news

On 4 June 1993, the legendary Australia leg-spinner bowled the iconic delivery to England's Mike Gatting to leave the cricketing world in disbelief.

It's been a quarter century since Shane Warne, then just 24 and starting out in international cricket, bowled the Ball of the Century to England's Mike Gatting during the first Test of 1993 Ashes series, which according to the Australian later, was "a fluke".

"The ball of the century was a fluke. It really was. I never did it again in the first ball of any time. So it really was a fluke and I think it was meant to be," Warne told ICC. Amazingly, it was his first delivery ever in Ashes cricket.

On his first Ashes appearance at Old Trafford in Manchester, a venue that traditionally favoured spinners, besides Gatting, Warne also bamboozled the likes of Graham Gooch, England captain at the time, Mike Atherton and Robin Smith with his brilliance. 

Video
Shane Warne on his "life-changing" ball of the century
The Australian legend describes the ball that cleaned up Mike Gatting as "a fluke".


Before the first Test of the 1993 Ashes, Warne had featured in 11 Tests, taking 31 wickets at an average of 30.80. 

He made his Test debut against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1992, where he returned match figures of 1/150. It was the Old Trafford Test of 1993 which set up Warne's career, which ended up reaching great highs. He went on to play 145 Tests, taking 708 wickets at an average of 25.41.

On the leading wicket-takers' chart in Tests, Warne is still comfortably sitting at the second position despite quitting Test cricket in 2007, only behind Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan, who finished his career with 800 Test wickets. 

On the day, after being skittled for a first-innings total of 289, Australia, who lost eight of their wickets to England's spinners, had to come up with a plan to bounce back. Warne was the only spinner in the Australian camp, and Allan Border, the captain, handed the ball to the leg-spinner. 

It was Shane Warne's first delivery in Ashes cricket ...
It was Shane Warne's first delivery in Ashes cricket ...


The first ball he bowled to Gatting drifted away, pitched well outside the leg stump, and spun back to hit off stump, leaving Gatting looking completely baffled. Gatting stared at the pitch in silence for a bit before trudging off. 

Warne had match figures of 8/137 then and was also adjudged the Player of the Match as Australia went on to win by 179 runs.

According to Warne, the delivery changed his life both on and off the field. "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."

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