Sultan of Spin salutes again

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THE iconic Shane Warne has received yet another honour: Victoria’s Cricketer of the Century. KEN PIESSE reports

WHEN SHANE WARNE was 17 and just out of school, his second XI captain at Brighton CC Mike Tamblyn was so underwhelmed by his bowling that he suggested it would be wise if he concentrated more on his batting.

Walking into St Kilda’s practice at the Junction Oval for the first time the following season, Warne was asked what he did by Noel Harbourd, the club’s long-time practice captain. “I’m a batsman and bowl a bit too,” he replied.


Club coach Shaun Graf liked what he saw and wandering past Harbourd, asked what the blond kid had said.

“Not sure about the batting,” said Graf. “But he might be a chance with the ball.”

Fast-tracked in just months from St Kilda’s thirds to the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide, Warne was to become the greatest spin bowler of all and win more Test matches for Australia than even Don Bradman.

Along with the Don he was selected among the Five Cricketers of the 20th Century by Wisden.

Having once contemplated a move to Sydney, before his headlining representative career had even begun, Warne remains a proud Victorian and the biggest living name among cricketers with a postcode starting with the number three.

Warne has been recognised yet again, this time as the outstanding Victorian-born cricketer of the past 100 years (1917-2017).

Warne shaded iconic trio Warwick Armstrong, Keith Miller and Neil Harvey as the finest of all in a 12-man poll involving leading cricketers and writers of the ilk of experts Ron Reed and Rod Nicholson.

The poll results have been included in the soon-to-publish 50th anniversary edition of the Australian Cricket Society’s award-winning annual Pavilion.

Among those to rate the biggest names in Victorian cricket history from one to 10 were ex-Test captains Bill Lawry, Graham Yallop and Neil Harvey, 88-years-young Colin McDonald, plus a brace of leading writers such as David Frith and Gideon Haigh.

Not everyone named Warnie as their No.1, Frith for example discounting the spin sultan’s Victorian figures as “modest at best”, especially when compared with the record of “The Big Ship” Armstrong and Miller, the charismatic all-sportsman of all.


  • Details of the Australian Cricket Society’s latest Overseas Supporter Tours to South Africa in autumn and England in 2019.
  • A Celebrity Column with Ashton Agar.
  • Ric Finlay names his greatest all-time Australian Ashes XIs.
  • Mike Hussey’s riveting annual dinner speech… word-for-word.
  • Australian Cricket Society year-by-year Timeline from 1967 on.
  • Mark Browning on the greatest Hat Trick ever.
  • New season international Fixtures.
  • ACS members & friends on their most memorable moments in cricket.

The new Pavilion with 80 pages of fine reading is $20 posted from



Author: Ken Piesse

KEN PIESSE has covered cricket and football for more than 30 years in Melbourne. He has written, edited and published more than 70 sports books. Signed copies of his latest cricket book Heroes of the Hour, cricket’s quintessential moments from Bradman and Lillee to Warne and Steve Smith, is available from



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