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Five moments that made Shane Warne special

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He has been in the limelight for both the right and the wrong reasons, for doing things his way.

He has always competed hard, refusing to give an inch to the opposition, using the choicest words at times when situations seemed out of control for his team.

His off-field indiscretions and marital problems have been well-documented over the years.

But there is no denying a single inescapable fact: he still remains one of the greatest spin wizards ever to have played the game.

Shane Keith Warne – the Sheikh of Tweak, Australia’s highest wicket-taker in Test cricket and one of the key members of Steve Waugh‘s side that lifted the 1999 World Cup, turns 44 today. He must be credited for resuscitating the dying art of leg spin in modern times, and, along with Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan, remains the only other slower bowler to have taken more than 1000 wickets in international cricket.

Warne never got to captain Australia during his entire career, which many consider to be his greatest regret (although the man himself hasn’t spoken too much about it). His dual role as captain and coach for the Rajasthan Royals received much praise, especially after they won the inaugural IPL title in 2008, almost a year after he bid farewell to the international arena.

As he celebrates his birthday today, here’s a look back at five moments in cricketing history that reflected his immense talent as a cricketer:

5. Sealing the Ashes (England vs Australia, Third Test, December 2006)

Ashes 2006-07 (Australia)

Ashes 2006-07 (Australia)

Warne rates this game as the best one he’s ever played in – and it was sweet vengeance for the Kangaroos after they were humiliated by England in the 2005 edition, losing the urn after 16 years.

He took four wickets in the second innings, after England were set a target of 557 to win – completely ripping apart the line-up despite a battling century from Alastair Cook and valiant half-centuries from Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen and captain Andrew Flintoff. The way he bamboozled the rest of the batsmen speaks volumes of the determination he had in wanting to avenge the previous reverse.

Warne’s five-wicket haul for the whole match enabled Australia to go 3-0 up in the series, and he helped them to achieve the 5-0 whitewash they had promised in the previous edition. Excellent stuff!

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