Former Australia cricketer Greg Chappell believes Shane Warne’s identity in the cricketing world was more than just being a great leg-spinner.
He added that Warne’s success on the field became a catalyst for many youngsters to become leg-spinners in cricket.
A shocked cricketing world has been giving rich tributes to Warne, who suddenly died on Friday at Koh Samui Island in Thailand of a suspected heart attack.
“Shane was more than just a leg spinner. He was an entertainer with enormous charisma who attracted attention wherever he went. His success generated millions of viewers to the game and brought the art of leg spin to life.
“It also spawned a new generation of leg spinners who tried to walk up to the crease and let it rip! What they didn’t have was Shane’s brute strength and native cunning, so very few have reached great heights,” wrote Chappell in his column for The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday.
Chappell, whose cricketing days for Australia were over before Warne entered the scene, described how the experience of seeing the legendary leg-spinner in action was like.
“Watching Warnie bowl was like watching an enactment of the Oberammergau Passion Play. Everything was finely tuned, elaborately planned and played out to a tried and tested script. Ian Healy and the close fielders were important characters, but for Warnie, it was as much about the theatrics as it was about the art of spin bowling.”
Chappell then explained how the body alignment played a crucial role in making Warne the impactful leg-spinner he was.
“He was a conjurer as much as a spin bowler. In his early days, he spun the ball as hard as anyone had. Those who batted against him said the ball seemed to have a life of its own as it hummed towards them, dipped and then spun crazily from the pitch. His sturdy body and big, meaty hands were another important part of what made him the bowler he was.
“This, allied with a grip that was lower in the fingers, into the palm of the hand, was very different to the traditional leg spinners of previous generations, who held the ball more towards the end of the fingers. His grip and strong shoulder action, with a full follow-through, literally made the ball buzz.”
Chappell signed off by saying that the cricketing world in mourning will never get to see a leg-spinner like Warne on-field.
“No one has had a bigger impact on the game since World War II than Shane, who managed to combine a flamboyant private life with a legendary, storied cricket career.
“His impact reached every corner of the cricket world and beyond. Tributes are coming in from all points, which indicates the respect in which he was held by fan and foe alike. We will never see the like of him again, nor anyone even close.”