It wasn’t just Ball Of The Match. It wasn’t just Ball Of The Year. It wasn’t just Ball Of The Decade. It was famously and deservingly called as ‘Ball Of The Century’. In a single match, over five-hundred balls are bowled, but this one ball took the cricket world by storm.
It was the 1993 Ashes Series. Before the first Test Match, Shane Warne had to participate in a couple of County Games. He was all pumped up to bowl his flippers and wrong un’s but Allan Border had other plans. Before the start of the play, Allan Border instructed Warnie not to bowl any top spinners, flippers or wrong un’s and asked him to only bowl leggies. This was so because before the start of the Ashes, Warne had played only 11 Test Matches and thus, much wasn’t known about Warne to the world but Allan Border knew what Warne could do. He advised Warne to keep his multiple variations of spin in his arsenal a secret for now and believed that now is not the moment to show the host nation the box of tricks he had up his sleeve.
Warne agreed, which meant that Warne got smashed in the County Games. In one innings, his figures read 23-6-122-1 but Allan had full faith in him and was confident that Ashes is the right time to unleash Warne and not the County Games.
The First Test MatchEmbed from Getty Images
England won the toss and decided to bowl first. Australia put up a brilliant opening partnership up of 128 runs. DeFreitas broke the deadlock and MJ Slater had to go back after scoring 58 runs off 131 balls. Though MA Taylor scored 124 runs, PM Such’s 6 wicket haul ensured that none of the other batsmen could settle and Australia was all out at 289 runs.
England started well with Gooch scoring a half century. Merv took the wicket of Atherton and then the to-be-victim Gatting arrived.
After a couple of balls, Allan Border signalled for Warne to start his spell. Who knew that what was about to come would be nothing short of extraordinary and would shake up the cricket fraternity forever.
Ball Of The Century
The pitch had plenty of spin in it and Warne knew that he had the opportunity to make it big. It was his first Ashes Test and Warne was feeling nervous and tried to calm himself by taking deep breaths. Soon Warne got his mojo and in his autobiography titled ‘No Spin’, he mentioned that before the ball he thought,
Right, mate, just rip this leg break and send the England dressing room a message that I can spin it big!
He got ready and bowled. Warne mentioned in his book,
I remember letting go off the ball and it felt great. It couldn’t have come out any better.
The ball travelled straight down the pitch and began to drift right due to the magnus effect and it pitched outside the line of Gatting’s leg stump. It landed on the part of the pitch which had been worn down by the follow through of the pace bowlers which helped turn the ball more than expected.Embed from Getty Images
In reply, Gatting moved his left leg forward and tried to defend it but the ball spun far more than expected and passed the outside edge of Gatting’s bat and kissed the top of the off-stump and bails dislodged! OUT! Gatting was stunned!
You can relive that delievery here:-
Gatting who was known to be a good player of spin was stunned. He stood straight for a few seconds in disbelief of what just happened and soon had to go to back to the pavillion and Warne pumped his fist up in celebration.Embed from Getty Images
Warne mentioned in his books that they were replaying the ball over and over from all angles. Everyone was stunned at what an absolute piece of art that ball was.
How can anyone spin a ball the width of Gatting boggles the mindMartin Johnson
Gatting has absolutely no idea what has happened to it. Still doesn’t knowRichie Benaud
Many other deliveries have been since compared with Warne’s ball of the century like Devendra Bishoo’s delivery against Australia in 2015 or Yasir Shah’s delivery against New Zealand in 2018 or Kuldeep Yadav’s delivery against Pakistan in 2019 but it is safe to say that none have come close to Warne’s piece of art.
Pace bowling had dominated the gentleman’s game since time foregone and leg spin was considered to be a fading art of the game but this delivery brought a new born resurgence in people’s interest in spin bowling. It was a piece of art and any cricket fan can replay it over and over and still never get tired of watching it. The Ball Of The Century was simply breathtaking.
Featured Image:- Tourism Victoria from Australia / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
I have been following many sports like Cricket, Football, Formula 1, Kabaddi, Chess and more for many years. I love consuming cricket related content like books, podcasts, and documentaries. Bibliophile, aspiring blogger, and writer by heart.