When Shane Warne was brought back for a second spell with West Indies needing less than 30 runs off six overs with six wickets in hand, few had envisioned an Australian victory in the 1996 World Cup semifinal.
But Warne, the greatest leg-spinner the game has ever seen, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a threewicket spell to finish with figures of 9-0- 36-4, giving Australia one of their most famous wins in white-ball cricket.
Other than his incredible talent and the never-say-die spirit, one of the key elements of Warne’s game was his razor-sharp mind.
Warne was the master could outfox the opponent with remarkable ease.
And the two-time World Cup winner in the 50-over format says bowlers in the modern era need to be smart and flexible to have a chance in a format like the T20 which has been designed to entertain fans with fours and sixes.
“The hardest thing for the young players today is, when we were taught bowling, we were taught to bowl the same ball over and over again, on the same spot. Now in T20 cricket, you can’t bowl the same ball twice. You have to ball six different balls in one over. So, it’s a lot harder for guys to have that consistency,” the iconic Australian player said during a recent visit to Shyam Bhatia’s cricket museum in Dubai.
“But what I would like to say is that the bowlers still need to outthink the batsman because there are no computers out there in the ground. You have to think on your feet, you have to adapt, you have to be flexible, you need to have the awareness of what’s going on, the scoreboard, the pitch, the batsman you are bowling to.”
Warne then said bowlers should not rely on coaches and computer analysts all the time.
“I think too many young players rely on other people, rely on coaches to tell them what to do, they rely on computers to tell them ‘this is how this player gets out’,” he said.
“I think that’s good to have that knowledge, but you still need to use your brain. So any tips from me for young players, will be to watch the batsmen and try to work out his weakness yourself because out in the middle you need to be able to work out how to bowl to someone rather than running off the ground, asking the coach what to do!”
Warne then doffed his hat to his great bowling rival, Muttiah Muralitharan.
“What Murali did with the ball was outstanding. So, to play him and now every time Australia play Sri Lanka, it’s called the Warne-Muralitharan trophy and I am very proud of that,” the 51-year-old Warne said.
“It’s nice because he is such a great man. It was great to play against him and watch him bowl.”
Warne, who came off second best in his battle against Sachin Tendulkar, said he was physically not at his best in the famous 1998 Test series when the Indian batsman attained mythic status by repeatedly hitting him off the rough.
“When I first played in 1990 and made my Test debut in 1992 against India, I played against Kapil Dev, Dilip Vengsarkar, all the legends. Sachin (18) I think was 10 or 11 at that stage (laughs), and he still made a hundred,” the Rajasthan Royals mentor recalled.
“So there was an eight-year gap between our next Test match against India. And unfortunately the 1998 series, we didn’t have our best side. Our best fast bowlers (Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie) were not there, and I needed a shoulder operation.
“So unfortunately because those guys were not there, they convinced me to go and straight after that tour, I went to the hospital and had a shoulder operation. I was out of the game for 12 months, so I was not at my best then!”