Shane Warne had a poor start to his Test career. Barring a match-winning spell in the second Test of the Frank Worrell Trophy (December, 1992) in Melbourne, all his other seven performances had been failures.

And then he went to New Zealand in February 1993, taking 17 wickets in three Tests at 15 apiece, emerging as the highest impact Australian bowler.

Could he fulfill his obvious promise in the Ashes or would he fritter it away? In the first Test at Manchester, Australia managed a decent 289. In reply, England were a steady 80 for 1 when captain Border introduced his young leg-spinner. His first ball in the Ashes in his 13th Test match. To a grizzled veteran playing his 73rd.

It was 1.3 coming in to bowl to 1.7.

The ball pitched a foot outside the leg stump and spun prodigiously past Gatting’s bat to clip the top of off. The batsman was perplexed. The crowd amazed. The commentators stunned.

Warne had produced what would later be called the ‘ball of the century’, as the Romantics would proclaim that no single ball in the history of Test cricket had done more to revive the fading art of leg-spin bowling.
And Shane Warne’s career.
Warne took 4-51 in this innings, as Australia got a lead and then set England 512 to win. Warne came back and took 4-86 in 49 overs as Australia won by 179 runs.

Warne was the highest impact bowler and player of the match.

Australia went on to win the series 4-1. Warne was the leading wicket-taker of the series with 34 wickets at 26 apiece.

He was the highest impact bowler and player of the series and registered an SD ( series-defining performance ) for his consistently high impact performances in the series.

From here on, Warne went from strength-to-strength while a shell-shocked Gatting faded away.

After this match, it was 3.65 (Warne) and 0.7 (Gatting).

Warne went on to produce an SD in the next three Test series he played -the Trans-Tasman Trophy, 1993, South Africa in Australia, 1993-94 and Australia in South Africa, 1994. He was the highest impact bowler and player in each of these series.

This means that Warne produced an SD in four consecutive series -a feat never achieved by any player in Test cricket history, before or since.

Gatting, who had already played 15 years of Test cricket, played just 6 more Tests, during which his Batting Impact fell dramatically by 59%.

From this match till Warne retired, in 2007, his bowling saw an unreal rise of 181%. Only Muttiah Muralitharan had a higher impact than Warne in this period.

Even today, Warne stands as the fifth-highest impact bowler in Test cricket’s history after Muralitharan, Dennis Lillee, Richard Hadlee and Dale Steyn.
He produced 9 SDs in his career. Only Muralitharan and Anil Kumble have ostensibly affected the result of a series on as many occasions as Warne. Unlike the other two, Warne did it pretty much everywhere.

It all began with that fateful ball. Warne’s career turned a mile.



Nikhil Narain
Art- Gokul Chakravarthy

 NOTE: Impact Index has undergone an upgradation in November 2015, and though 95% of its findings remain the same, there have been some minor shifts. This piece was updated post that, and is up-to-date as of August 2016.