NEW DELHI: Batting icon Sunil Gavaskar feels the late Shane Warne sent down “magic deliveries” during his career and mastered a difficult craft but the legendary Australian wasn’t the greatest spinner of all time as his performance in India was “pretty ordinary.”
Warne, since making his debut in 1992, played 145 Tests for Australia, picking up 708 wickets with his leg-spin. In his 194 ODI appearances, he snared 293 scalps.
But when Gavaskar was asked if the Australian was the greatest spinner he has seen, the former India captain said he rated India’s litany of spinners and former Sri Lanka bowler Muttiah Muralitharan higher than Warne.
“No, I wouldn’t say that no. For me, the Indian spinners and Muttiah Muralitharan were cerianly better than Shane Warne,” Gavaskar said on ‘India Today’.
“Because look at Shane Warne’s record against India. It was pretty ordinary. In India, he got five wickets only once in Nagpur, and that too because Zaheer Khan swung wildly against him to give him a fifer.
Warne, 52, died of a suspected heart attack on Friday in Koh Samui, Thailand, sending shockwaves around the cricketing world.
“Because he did not have much success against Indian players who were very good players of spin, I don’t think I would call him the greatest,” Gavaskar said.
“Muttiah Muralitharan with a greater success he had against India, I would rank him over Warne in my book,” he added.
Another spin legend, Muralitharan (800) finished with more wickets than Warne (708).
Gavaskar, who was also lavish in his praise for Warne, copped a lot of criticism from the Australian media, which said the timing of the 72-year-old’s comments wasn’t particularly good.
“He mastered a craft which is so difficult to master, which is wrist spin. To pick 700-plus wickets like he did in Test cricket plus hundreds more in one-day cricket just tells you how good a bowler he was,” Gavaskar said.
“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 tough.
“For him to have bowled the way he did, the way he seemed to create magic, the way he seemed to be able to deliver magic deliveries at will was the reason why he was revered all over the world,” he added. —PTI