There was no country in the cricketing world Shane Warne tormented more than Australia’s old enemy, England.
Warne faced England 36 times in the Test arena and won 195 wickets, the most ever won by an English opponent in Test history. Warne has never picked up more wickets against any of the other Test nations.
England were also wrong at the end of some of their most iconic moments. From the famous ‘Gatting Ball’, to his Ashes hat-trick in 1994 and his 700th wicket on Boxing Day, Warne loved feasting on England.
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However, despite Warne’s torture of England, the spin icon was incredibly beloved and was undoubtedly the most popular Australian cricketer in the country.
English love for Warne was never more evident than the widespread mourning and outpouring of emotion from people across the country following his tragic death on Saturday.
From former foes such as Michael Vaughan, to current England captain Joe Root, to rock stars such as Mick Jagger, people across the UK have been left heartbroken by Warne’s passing.
So why was Warne more beloved than perhaps any of England’s other sporting rivals?
The answer is simple according to English cricket commentator Mark Nicholas, who shared the box with Australia’s Nine Network champion.
“His sense of fun, his brightness, his smile, his sense of optimism, his generosity to others,” Nicholas told Nine’s Sports Sunday.
“He didn’t mind being beaten. He called 2005 the best series he’s played in. He said England deserved to win this series.
“He didn’t hide behind anything. He himself had a good run, which makes it easier to speak positively about it, but he did it because he truly believed cricket was so good.
“You know how it is here, it can be a little gray sometimes, but it never was when he was in any area of life. He seemed to lighten things up. He brought sunshine into people’s houses by the way he played cricket.”
Nicholas compared Warne’s impact on fans around the world to that of some of the world’s greatest sportsmen, such as golfing legend Tiger Woods.
“I would say he’s one of the few cricketers – I was going to say from the modern era, but maybe from any era – who would take you away from what you were doing at a specific time in when he was bowling, you like when Tiger Woods was hitting the golf ball, you watched,” he said.
“They loved him. He was very polite and very charming, good with people, signed autographs, took selfies, patient. Wow, I mean, I know you keep talking about him.
“You think about it now and you realize what we’re going to miss, this larger than life character who had time for other people, which is a good thing in life, isn’t it, really?”
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Shane Warne’s life in pictures: from Victoria boy to Aussie “Spin King”