Shane Warne talks about his ‘Ball of the Century’ from the Ashes Test at Old Trafford in 1993 in conversation with Tracey Holmes

Of all the many thousands of balls Shane Warne ever bowled, there was none more famous than his introduction to Test cricket in England in 1993.

In a glittering career that brought Warne a Test hat-trick at the MCG, more than 700 Test wickets in total and more than 1,000 international dismissals overall, attention always returns to the ripping leg-break that spun from outside leg to clip off and leave Mike Gatting walking off in a daze.

In the wake of Warne’s death in Thailand at the age of 52, fans and players alike have spoken and written on social media about the ball that bamboozled the former England skipper and made a sporting rockstar of the young Aussie with the shock of blond hair.


What of Warne’s own memories? He spoke about his career with ABC’s Tracey Holmes at the Chappell Foundation Inaugural Dinner in 2018, starting with THAT ball and the lead-up to that memorable moment:

“I have [Gatting] missed a straight one, that’s about it, really. But my first ball in the Ashes series, it was pretty special.

“I remember sitting with Merv Hughes on the plane and I asked him, ‘What’s an Ashes series actually like?’

“And I was expecting this wonderful answer, this spine-tingling stuff from Merv. And he said, “Put it this way, England are shit, we’re sponsored by a beer company and there are rest days, so it’s a great tour .’

“And I said, ‘So that should be a pretty great series.'”

Graeme Hick clubbed 13 sixes off Shane Warne on the way to 206 against the tourists at Worcester on the 1993 Ashes tour.(Getty Images/Allsport UK: Adrian Murrell)

Warne recalled the team’s first tour match after their arrival was against county side Worcestershire, with a line-up featuring star batsman Graeme Hick.

“Allan Border pulled me aside and he said, ‘They’ve got this guy called Graeme Hick who’s a terrific player, he’s going to be playing a big part in the Ashes series – so make sure you don’t bowl anything to him, just leg breaks.No flippers or wrong ‘uns, or anything else, just leg breaks.’

“And I said sure, should be good enough [to get him out] de todas formas.”

Despite that early setback, Warne was chosen for the first Test at Old Trafford in Manchester. England won the toss, and skipper Graham Gooch put Australia at bat.

“Mark Taylor makes a good hundred, overnight we’re about 6 for 230, 240. So the next day I thought I’m going to get to bat in an Ashes series for the first time and I’m going to have to bowl later in the day.

“So I had a nice early night – Merv grabs me and says, ‘I know it’s a big day for you tomorrow, let’s just have a couple of beers at the bar.’

“About two or three o’clock [in the morning] … after smoking like a green log, I’d had a couple, I managed to get to sleep before the big day, my first ever Ashes day.

“I get to the ground, a wicket falls, I go out to bat — I run Craig McDermott out second ball, we lose a couple of wickets, end of the innings.

“We go out to bowl, and Mike Atherton and Graham Gooch get off to a great start. And just before the lunch break Allan Border says to me, next over, that end [for you].

“So I went ‘shit’ and started to loosen up. Merv Hughes knocks over Mike Atherton, Mike Gatting goes out, so we have the lunch break.

“I’m sitting there at the lunch room thinking, ‘Oh God I’m going to have a bowl after lunch.’


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