Shane Warne is an undisputed cricket great – eight years after his international debut, he was named one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Decade and remains Australia’s highest wicket-taker in international cricket.
But a series of off-field scandals plagued the leg spinner’s career, and have given him two distinct identities – the cricket legend, and the controversial sporting personality.
Warne did not anticipate the intense media surveillance that came with being a high-profile athlete, which resulted in spot-fixing accusations and the infamous phone texting saga.
Everything changed for Warne in the 1993 Ashes series. Before that tour, Warne had only played 11 Test matches, and was still relatively unknown.
It was during his first delivery of the opening match at Old Trafford that Warne produced the Ball of the Century.
The unforgettable delivery pitched outside leg, ripped past Mike Gatting’s defensive prod and clipped the top of off stump.
The Ball of the Century.Source:Getty Images
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The “Gatting Ball” made Warne a global sensation – but stardom comes at a cost. In episode four of Fox Cricket’s A Week With Warnie, the 50-year-old revealed how the classic moment gave him a split personality.
No longer was Warne just a talented cricketer, but the media suddenly became infatuated with his life off the field as well.
“That ball changed my life. Suddenly there was interest about how I spent my time,” Warne said.
“I remember going to the Windmill Pub in London. I went for a pint with Merv (Hughes) … When I came out, there was, without a word of a lie, probably 25 to 30 photographers just taking pictures.
“As I was walking 100 yards to the hotel, they were in the middle of the road. I’m going, ‘Merv, what the hell is going on here?’
“The next day was about ‘Shane Warne was at the pub’. I was getting critiqued about what I was wearing, I had ‘10 things you don’t know about Shane Warne,’ and I’m reading it going, ‘That’s not true, I didn’t know that about me!’”
Shane Warne claimed 708 Test wickets, the most for any Australian in history.Source:News Corp Australia
Warne “resented” the ongoing media surveillance early in his career and was unsure how to handle the “overwhelming” scrutiny.
“I found that I didn’t understand how (the media) worked, and I resented it,” Warne said.
“I had to read these things about myself that weren’t true, which was quite tough to take.
“Some of my actions in the mid 90s and towards the end of the late 90s — I acted in a sort of arrogant, pretty ordinary fashion all the time.
“I live in the moment, so sometimes you don’t think about the consequences, and that was probably most of my trouble. I didn’t think what the consequences were or what effect it would have on other people.
“It was a selfish thing. I did what I wanted to do, and that got me into a bit of trouble.”
Warne’s off-field scandals are well-known, and although the leg spinner regrets those “horrible” mistakes, he is particularly ashamed of the impact it had on his family.
“I’m not proud of all of my decisions … I made some horrible mistakes and choices,” Warne said.
“Some of the things were really hard to take.
“I let my family down, I embarrassed my children … but that’s something I have to live with.
“But for all of those bad choices I’ve also been very proud of all the good things I’ve done. I’ve done a lot of good things, but sometimes people like to harp on about the bad things because it’s a better headline.”
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