‘In the bedroom crying’: Remembering Warnie

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In the early 1990’s – when I was dating my future wife – the easiest way for me to persuade her to join me at the cricket was by telling her that Shane Warne was playing.

I can still remember her lurking around the back of the Members Stand, before the start of play at the SCG, offering her miniature cricket bat to passing players to sign, whilst I sat nearby reading a book. Shane’s signature was her greatest prize.

Now she’s in the bedroom crying.

My wife grew up in South East Asia. Unlike me, whether she was available for household chores, or lunch with friends, was not dictated by whether there was cricket on TV.

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Yet she is more upset by Shane Warne’s early death than I am. If that is not a testament to how Warne’s genius with the ball transcended the game he played, I don’t know what is.

I was in the Brewongle Stand in 1992 when Warnie had Ravi Shastri caught by Dean Jones to finally take his first Test wicket. My wife and I were sitting in the MA Noble Concourse when Shane bowled Jacques Kallis – after a long rain delay – to take his 300th wicket.

And we were in the Members Stand, in January 2007, when Shane Warne took his final Test wicket; Andrew Flintoff stumped by Adam Gilchrist. Wicket No.708.

Shane Warne 4

RIP, Warnie (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

In between, he was the most entertaining cricketer of his generation. Perhaps the most entertaining ever.

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My favourite memory remains his 7 for 26 against the South Africans on the first day of the Sydney Test in 1994. It was my first day as an SCG Member.

Warne had just delivered the `Ball of the Century’ to dismiss Mike Gatting the previous Ashes winter. His burgeoning legend was on the rise. And when Allan Border called him on to bowl on that hot January afternoon in 1994, the crowd removed their focus from any peripheral activity which may have been going on and focussed on the blonde haired man flicking the ball from hand to hand at the top of his short run-up.

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We all sat forward in our seats.

Every twirling ball Shane bowled that day was met with either a tantalising gasp or the raucous celebration which comes with a wicket. When Warne was bowling, something was bound to happen.

Those golden years of Australian cricket, when a larrikin with golden hair mesmerised batsman and left spectators spellbound, seem a long time ago now. With Warne’s death, they seem even more of a bygone era.

But for as long as cricket is played, people will speak of Warnie in an awed whisper…likely followed by smiles and laughter. He was that kind of bloke.

I, like a multitude of others, thank Shane for the memories. And for making Test cricket enjoyable for a girl from South East Asia.

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