Angus Fraser: Farewell to the best bowler ever and probably the greatest cricketer of all time

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The Independent Online

Shane Warne is the finest bowler cricket has produced and probably the greatest cricketer of all time. I say probably only because it is impossible for me to gauge how brilliant players like Sir Donald Bradman and Sir Garfield Sobers were.

As a bowler Warne has everything - skill, guile, mystery, control and, most importantly of all, the desire to compete. Thousands of young men have been blessed with the raw ingredients to be a great cricketer but very few go on and make the most of their talent. For these figures the game is often too easy. They may have a bad day but "what the hell", there is always tomorrow. For Warne tomorrow never came. Today was always the most important day of his life, and he refused to give in.

He is the ultimate competitor. At times his harassment of umpires and batsmen has overstepped the mark, but I would rather see a player react as he does than give in. Many batsmen have got the better of him during his glorious career, but not one of them has ever beaten him.

Warne is a captain's dream. So many bowlers are dependent on the toss. A good seamer can make the most of a damp or greenish wicket on the first morning of a Test but can be innocuous when conditions do not suit. Swing bowlers and finger spinners are the same. But Warne was dangerous at any time. Australia captains have invited him to bowl on the first mornings of Tests during his career. It's a time when spinners should be fodder. But Warne, with all his craft and spin, is a handful when he has no right to be.

The second Test in Adelaide personified Warne's genius. In the first innings he bowled well but Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen got the better of him. He deserved better but he never gave in. He congratulated each player when they passed 100 but he kept toiling, hoping and believing he would eventually get the better of them.

And in the second innings he did, setting up an extraordinary win with breathtaking bowling. Warne toiled for four hours in searing heat and rarely sent down a bad ball. He expected success with every delivery and each ball was followed by the cry of "catch it". He makes the art of bowling leg-spin appear easy but it is not: it is bloody hard work. You need to be fit and strong as well as skilful even to contemplate bowling it.

The void Warne has left cannot be filled and the game will be diminished because of his departure. I personally will miss him, as will anyone with a true love for our sport. It was an honour to play against you, Shane, and thank you for all you have done for cricket.

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