Australia are to call on Shane Warne to advise their spinners ahead of the make-or-break third Ashes Test at Old Trafford — where the leg-spin legend delivered the ‘ball of the century’ 20 years ago.
Warne,in England as a television commentator,has been asked to have a word with 19-year-old left-armer Ashton Agar and off-spinner Nathan Lyon by former team-mate turned Australia c1oach Darren Lehmann ahead of a match the tourists,2-0 down in the five-match series,must win to keep their Ashes hopes alive.
“We’d be made not to use Shane Warne and talk spin bowling to him,” said Lehmann. “It’s not so much technical with him. It’s more the mental side of it,the fields you want for certain players.”
Concerningly for Australia,Agar went wicketless on a helpful pitch during a crushing 347-run defeat by England in the second Test at Lord’s.
Meanwhile Lyon,having seemingly established himself as Australia’s premier spinner,has yet to play in this Ashes after being left out for the first two Tests in favour of the teenager.
But both sides could yet field two spinners at Old Trafford,with England having added left-armer Monty Panesar to a squad already containing in-form off-spinner Graeme Swann,as the Manchester ground has a deserved reputation for taking turn.
It was at Old Trafford in 1993 where Warne,making his Ashes debut,saw his first ball pitch outside leg-stump and then spin viciously across Mike Gatting to clip the top of the England batsman’s off-bail.
The delivery was soon labelled ‘the ball of the century’.
Warne would go on to win six successive Ashes series,finishing with 708 Test wickets after helping to secure a 5-0 series whitewash at Sydney in January 2007.
“When you see it in a compilation of sporting moments,that is pretty cool and it makes me feel humble and think how lucky I was to be there and how lucky it was to happen,” Warne told cricket.com.au as part of 13 great Ashes moments.
A stunned Gatting stood his ground for several seconds with former Australia captain Richie Benaud,himself a highly accomplished leg-spinner,remarking during his television commentary: “Gatting has absolutely no idea what has happened to him — and he still doesn’t know.”
Gatting said: “The reason I stayed there wasn’t because I was shocked but because I didn’t hear anything. Normally you hear the ball hit the stumps,but it didn’t,it just lifted the off bail.
“They then asked me nicely if I’d like to leave in that Australian way,and I did look bemused because I thought it had missed everything.
“He bowled a ball that had people in my dressing room gathered round the screen watching it at tea time. It was one of those things that possibly changed the whole series. Looking back now,it was a lovely thing to be a part of.”