Angus Fraser says Australia great Shane Warne was a star in Michael Jordan's class

By Sports Desk March 06, 2022

Shane Warne brought a "Hollywood" magic to cricket and belonged to the same sporting superstar bracket as NBA legend Michael Jordan, according to an old Ashes adversary.

Former England paceman Angus Fraser described Warne as "a magician" of a bowler, a leg-spinner who was "in complete control" of his art.

Speaking to Stats Perform, in the wake of Warne's death at the age of 52 on Friday, Fraser said the man who was so often the scourge of England did "untold good" for the sport.

Warne took 708 Test match wickets, a total beaten only by Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan, and his effervescence and skill level made him a player who transcended cricket.

"He did bring Hollywood to cricket, didn't he?," Fraser said.

"Sat next to Shane Warne, he always had a ball in his hand. He was just going through his ball, the different balls. So like the leg-spinner, the googly, the flipper.

"The control he had over a cricket ball, you just sat there thinking, this guy's a magician. I mean, he's just throwing the thing up, and it just lands straight in his hand while he's talking to you, and he was just in complete control of what he was doing, so the skill level of the man was just beyond belief, really.

"Every ball was an event, that was the thing as well. It was theatre. You stood there at the end of his run-up and then boom. You watched when he had the ball in his hand because you just thought anything is possible, anything could happen.

"Not just a great cricketer, one of the greatest cricketers in the world, he's one of the great sportsmen in the world. He's up there with Michael Jordan and people like that.

"That's the sort of level where he's at, so that's the impact he had on the game. The way he's gone about it, yes, he's made mistakes and, yes, sometimes he's been in the headlines for the wrong reasons. But he's just done untold good for the game of cricket."

Warne's death was a jolt to the global cricket community. The man who became a popular pundit after his playing career ended passed away while on holiday in Thailand, of a suspected heart attack.

Fraser was left stunned, saying: "These things don't happen to Shane Warne, do they? I mean, yes, we know he's got a lifestyle and an existence that is just unimaginable, dashing around the world, but it doesn't happen to Shane.

"I mean, he's sort of bulletproof, he's a force of nature. He's just a character that you can kick and knock down, but he always gets back up and comes back, and is there as bold as brass and as confident and as full of energy in life as he's ever been."

Warne's career was full of highs and some notable lows, including being stripped of the Australia vice-captaincy after a phone sex scandal, and being banned for failing a drugs test, having taken a banned diuretic. He became engaged to actress and model Liz Hurley, and although they later split, Warne's life was for many years spent in the glare of the media spotlight.

Fraser said: "Whether you've played against him or whether you've just followed him as a cricket supporter, his life has been led out there in the open, so I think it's inevitable that everybody feels it because you've seen him make his mistakes, you've seen these wonderful moments, you just know so much about the man. It's hard to believe that there's that much hidden, because it's just all been out there in the newspapers or on the televisions in front of us."

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