New Delhi: Batting icon Sunil Gavaskar believes the late Shane has sent Warne “magic deliveries” during his career and has mastered a difficult trade, but the Australian was not the best spinner of all time as his performance in India was “quite ordinary”, a view that had been criticized as ill-timed in some parts of the media Down Under.
Warne has played 145 Tests for Australia since his 1992 debut, taking 708 wickets on his leg spin. In his 194 ODI appearances, he stringed 293 scalps.
But when Gavaskar was asked if the Australian was the best spinner he’s ever seen, the former India captain said he rated India’s spinners and former Sri Lanka bowler Muttiah Muralitharan higher than Warne.
“No, I wouldn’t say that. For me, the Indian spinners and Muttiah Muralitharan were definitely better than Shane Warne,” Gavaskar said on India Today.
‘Cause look at Shane Warne’s record against India. It was pretty ordinary. In India, he only got five wickets in Nagpur once, and that too because Zaheer Khan waved wildly at him to give him a fifer.
Warne, 52, died Friday of a heart attack in Thailand’s Koh Samui, which sent shockwaves across the world of cricket.
“Since he didn’t have much success against Indian players who were very good spin players, I don’t think I would call him the best,” said Gavaskar.
“Muttiah Muralitharan with a greater success he had against India, I would put him in my book over Warne,” he added.
Another spinning legend, Muralitharan (800) finished with more wickets than Warne (708).
Gavaskar’s criticism of Warne’s record in India sparked sharp reactions Down Under.
“Honestly… It’s not the right time: Indian legend criticized for ‘shameful’ Warne claim,” read the headline of Fox News.
“Gavaskar’s call was more mind-boggling as it came after he admitted that Warne’s leg spin was the most difficult art to master as a bowler,” a news.com-au said in its report.
The report also featured a tweet from British journalist Jack Mendal, who said: “Frankly, Sunny, it’s not the time…could have just bypassed it. The body isn’t even cold yet.”
Gavaskar, 72, was also effusive in his praise of Warne, acknowledging that he had perfected a difficult craft and worked magic on the pitch.
“He mastered a craft that is so difficult to master, which is turning the wrist. To pick over 700 wickets like he did in Test cricket plus hundreds more in one day cricket just tells you how good a bowler he was,” said Gavaskar.
“Finger spin is a lot easier, you have a lot more control over what you want to bowl, but leg spin or wrist spin is very, very difficult.
“That he bowled the way he did, the way he seemed to create magic, the way he seemed to be able to deliver magical deliveries at will, was why he was revered all over the world,” he added.
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