DAVID LLOYD: Shane Warne was as good as there has ever been and we shared a special bond, for him life was for living and cricket was always at its centre
- Cricket legend Shane Warne died suddenly of a heart attack on Friday morning
- He was 52 and was found unconscious in a villa in the Thai resort of Koh Samui
- Tributes have been pouring in for one of the greatest cricketers of all time
The whole cricket world will be saddened by the loss of Shane Warne because he touched everybody with his extreme skill and competitive nature.
As a spin bowler, he was as good as there has ever been. He had an unerring belief in his ability, to the extent that as the kingpin of the team, when it got to the fourth innings, and the captain said ‘over to you, Shane, win us the game,’ he didn’t fail.
Plenty would shrink like you wouldn’t believe when it was down to them in such scenarios yet he would love the responsibility of getting his team over the line.
David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd said the whole cricket world will be saddened by the loss of Shane Warne
So, why was he such a good bowler? Well, his stubby little fingers went against the theory that good spinners have long ones, so it wasn’t that.
What was crucial, though, was that his wrist was like other people’s forearms, and I am absolutely convinced that the mechanics of the way that he bowled – the rotation of both his right arm and shoulder – allowed the power in the wrist to put lots of revolutions on the ball. He was a massive spinner of the ball, as prodigious as cricket has seen.
People will remember him for the impact of his 700 Test wickets, for his leg-spin proving integral to the success of Australia of the 1990s and 2000s.
Tha Australian legend died suddenly on Friday at the age of 52 due to a suspected heart attack
Yet the thing I will remember most fondly about him is a time when he didn’t have things his own way – when Kevin Pietersen hit 158 at the Oval in 2005, one of the best innings I’ve ever seen.
Pietersen took him to the cleaners and yet Warne never backed off. He could have said ‘not today, skip. I’m a bit sore.’ That was something he never did. He always kept going.
After his retirement, when he talked the game, he would regularly address the great battles he’d had. The tussles with adversaries who had got on top of him. Brian Lara was one who had his number and Pietersen was another on occasions, and he loved the fact that he didn’t have things all his own way. That was a measure of the man.
The pair commented on many games together and Lloyd said Warne ‘the kingpin of the team’
Off the field, he had a larrikin lifestyle and was a real Peter Pan. When we worked together commentating, after downing tools for the day, I would be ready for a couple of beers, a curry and bed.
But he pulled to my one side one day and said: ‘What you doing tonight?’ The usual, I told him.
‘Nah, you’re not. Meet me in hotel reception at midnight.’ Midnight! I said. Have you any idea about my age? He was very keen on a place in Chelsea called Brinkley’s, which is for happening people. He wanted to introduce me to some of them, apparently.
Warne played for Lloyd’s club Accrington in his youth and Lloyd said he was a real Peter Pan
He could do that until the early hours and be in the commentary box the next morning, no problem. All on a bag of chips. That, and pizza, was all he seemed to eat.
Sleeping was a total inconvenience. A damn nuisance that got in the way of fun. Ian Botham and Garry Sobers were cut from exactly the same cloth.
We had a special bond in Accrington, my club and the one he played for in his youth. I didn’t know him at that time because I was coach at Lancashire but I heard plenty of stories about him and Bob Simpson, then Australia coach, would check in with me to ask me how he was doing.
I daren’t tell him the truth, which was that his social life was causing mayhem through the town, so I just used to tell him: ‘Yep, well, he’s got a few wickets.’
For him, life was for living and cricket was always at its centre.