Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Shane Warne - past his best?

I want to make clear at the outset that I am of the opinion that Shane Keith Warne is the greatest bowler in the history of cricket. Not just in numbers, but the way he went about it, he was, and always will be a complete legend of the game and I count myself lucky to have seen him bowl a couple of times.

But, and its a big but, I have lost all faith in the man. Not because he currently has figures of 2-129 for the 2010 IPL, not because he went at nearly 10-an-over in the game today against Kings XI, and not even because he seems to be having some sort of love affair with Shaun Tait, picking him ahead of Morne Morkel, who I think is a better bowler.

No, its because of the complete inanities that have spewn forth from his not inconsiderable gob in the last few weeks. I could barely stomach the fact that he insisted that winning the inaugural IPL with the Rajasthan Royals was his finest achievement in cricket - ok, he played in a few Ashes series where England were little better than also-rans, but he also played in some of the finest series ever - Australia in India in 2001 and the 2005 Ashes to name just two. And yet he thought that winning a hit-and-giggle Twenty20 tournament topped the lot. It smacked of Lalit Modi brown-nosing if you ask me.

But that wasn't even the worst of it. He then went on to describe the hundred by Yusuf Pathan in this match of IPL3 against the Mumbai Indians as the best he's seen. This was the last straw. Ok, so the innings that Wisden ranked as the best ever, Bradman's 270 against England in 1936-37 was some time before Warne was born, but lets just have a look at some that weren't. In fact, lets go further, lets look at three where Warne wasn't just alive, he was on the chuffing pitch at the time:

Brian Lara's 153 not out at Bridgetown in 1998-99. Ranked by Wisden as the second greatest of all time, somehow took the Windies to victory, chasing 308 no other West Indian batsman passed 38 in the innings, but Lara rose above the lot of them to score an imperious, unbeaten hundred shepherding his side (and it was his ITALICS side) to victory 9 wickets down. Warne sent down 24 wicketless overs in the second innings overs. If you've got the time, watch this:

Adam Gilchrist's 102 not out off 59 balls at Perth in 2006/07. You might just call this a bit of fluff, against an England attack containing Saj Mahmood, i.e. not very good. But he took Panesar to pieces, Panesar was debuting against the Aussies and had bagged five in the first innings. Gillie's knock was so violent - the second fastest test hundred ever - a reminder of the man who averaged almost 50 from 100 matches at a better strike rate than Virender Sehwag - he was THAT good:

VVS Laxman's 281 at Kolkata in 2001. My personal favourite, so good that I had to buy the DVD. I'm sure we're all familiar with the tale, but following Australia's 445 in the first innings India could only muster 171 (Laxman top scored with 59). Following on they were on the brink at 115-3 - on the brink that was until VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid came to the crease to forge a stunning triple hundred partnership to turn the match on its head. They bowled Australia out for 212 to take victory and become one of very few teams who won the match despite being asked to follow on. Warne's analysis? 1-152. Make time to watch this:

So there you have it, a selection of three innings which were infinitely more impressive than Yusuf Pathan's hundred off 37 balls. Although that was a lot of fun, so here it is too:

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