The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the biggest annual event on the global cricket calendar. Started in 2008 with a lot of hope but cautious scepticism, having gone through many ebbs and flows, the league has emerged stronger each year to showcase the world’s best talents on a single stage. The league has established itself as one of the biggest platforms for youngsters to flaunt their skills – a celebration where cricket’s largest global community meet, compete, share and build bridges.
Marking the 12th anniversary of the decorated league, cricket.com celebrates and honours the legends of the IPL by inducting them to the 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' – stars who not only dazzled on the field of play but elevated the stature of the league to skyrocketing heights by their sheer presence. This year cricket.com will induct 15 such legends. Our second "Cricket.com Hall of Fame" inductee is the maverick leg spinner from Australia - Shane Warne.
Shane Warne, the legendary Australian spinner, came to the Indian Premier League with 1,001 international wickets to his name and it took him just one season to add another feather in his cap - an IPL trophy, while he magnificently managed the dual role of the captain and the coach.
In an illustrious 15-year long international career for Australia, Warne was a fabulous spinner and a batsman of some ability but never got a decent run as a skipper. In the 2008 season, he ticked that last box stamping his leadership qualities in the tournament leading a supposedly underwhelming Rajasthan Royals’ side to the title. He was the only overseas skipper and the only player to be performing the dual role of captain and the coach across all the eight franchises.
Apart from his exploits in the field of play as an attacking leg-spinner, Warne will always be fondly remembered for his mentorship skills in the IPL. He took youngsters like Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan under his wings and was tactically brilliant at the same time further solidifying claims that termed him as the “best captain Australia never had”. Not only the Indian stars but his Aussie team-mate, Shane Watson revived his international career with a stunning 2008 season and went on to forge a fruitful career in Australian colours. IPL’s motto says ‘talent meets opportunity’ and no other team justified it more than Rajasthan Royals, the foundation of which was laid by Warne’s side in the inaugural season itself.
On a personal note, Warne led from the front taking 19 wickets in the 15 games he played that season. Not to forget, at the start of the tournament, it had been more than a year since Warne last played international cricket and over six months since he last played any form of professional cricket - county cricket in England being his last. He was still the highest wicket-taker in the season amongst spinners. His 19 scalps came at a strike-rate of 16.4 balls per wicket while keeping his economy below 8 runs per over. His 3 for 19 against Kings XI Punjab were his best bowling figures which orchestrated Royals’ first victory of the season.
He made the fans fall in love with the Royals which did not have any renowned stars except himself. The Royals and the IPL had the same effect on him and Warne stayed with the franchise until 2011.
Although Royals could not repeat their title-winning performance and struggled to make it to the top 4 again, Warne continued to pick wickets and inspire youngsters around him. Over the next three seasons, Warne snaffled 38 wickets in 40 games. He continued to lead the side till his last game and bid adieu to the IPL arena with a 10-wicket victory against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede.
* The "Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame" only takes into account of players who have announced their retirement from IPL and last played in the 2018 season.