The Story of Shane Warne’s ‘Ball of The Century’


Exactly 30 years ago, legendary Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne delivered the ‘Ball Of The Century’.On this day, Shane Warne unassumingly walked into the Cricket Stadium and delivered his first ball in the Ashes Series. He took Mike Gatting’s wicket and how, that is the story of “the Ball Of The Century” and what made Shane Warne a cricketing legend.


Let’s take a trip down memory lane to unravel the mysteries surrounding this milestone in the Gentleman’s game.

The Background

Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
Match: Day 2, First Test – 1993 Ashes series

After being dismissed for just 289 despite Mark Taylor’s century, England was going strong at 80/1 when Captain Allan Border turned to Warne.

A young Warne was about to bowl his first delivery of his first test series on English soil to Mike Gatting, who was considered one of the best players of spin in International Cricket.

A 23-year-old Warne had just played 11 Test matches until then but had shown some promise, particularly in his last, test claiming 7 wickets for 52 runs against West Indies.

The Delivery

After a slow run-up, Warne delivered this leg break which drifted way outside the leg stump due to Magnus effect.

Magnus effect is a scientific phenomena where spinning objects drag air faster around one side, creating a pressure difference that moves it towards the lower-pressure side. You can experience the Magnus effect in this video

Gatting did nothing wrong to play this delivery, trying that the ball hit the pad or the bat.

This was a standard defence tactic against leg spinners for deliveries pitching outside leg, as the batsman cannot be given out LBW. The ball would hit and land on the bat safely if it spun more.

Gatting stared at the pitch for several seconds in disbelief before walking towards the pavilion. Nobody had witnessed the cricket ball turning so much ever before.



Gatting’s wicket triggered a batting collapse with England scoring just 210 runs. Warne scalped 4 victims each in both the innings of the match.

It is told that Warne’s magical delivery and his other scalps in the match set the tone of the series where England was thrashed 4-1.

Australia went to dominate the World cricket crushing every formidable opposition in the process for the next two decades and Warne retired in Tests 13 years later as one of the most prolific bowlers to have ever taken the field with 704 wickets.

After two decades of domination by the fast bowlers of West Indies and Australia, leg spin was considered as a dying art in the demanding modern-day game. This delivery made the cricketing fraternity realize the power of leg spin leading to resurgence of popularity in leg spin.


Shane Warne used to describe this ball as a fluke in one of the videos tweeted by the ICC handle recently.

Here’s the video:

Robin Marlar an English cricketer in the Sunday Times probably was the first person to describe this delivery as the ‘Ball Of the Century’.

The 1993 Ashes did wonders for Australia, labeling it as as a force to be reckoned with. It not only boosted Shane Warne’s career but also revolutionised spin bowling. His epic throw was aptly named the ball of the century and would be discussed for many more centuries.

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