Shane Keith Warne (born September 13, 1969) is an Australian cricketer, born in Victoria.
Shane Warne is regarded by many as the best leg spin bowler ever to play cricket. Despite an undistinguished debut performance against India in 1991, he has since revolutionised cricket thinking with his mastery of what many cricket authorities regarded as a dying art. Combining the ability to turn the ball huge distances, even on unhelpful pitches, with unerring accuracy and a wide variation of deliveries (notably including the flipper), he has become Australia's greatest ever wicket taker, with 517 wickets at a bowling average of 25.42. Many of his most spectacular performances have occurred in Ashes series against England, whose inexperience against legspin bowling made their players particularly vulnerable, though with feats like the famous "Gatting Ball" which spun furiously to bowl a bemused Mike Gatting in the 1993 series most of the credit is Warne's. Warne has also been highly effective bowling in one-day cricket, something few other leg spin bowlers have managed. Warne is also noted for his exuberant (and sometimes effective) lower-order batting (once famously throwing away his wicket on 99 with a Test century beckoning), and on several occasions has captained Australia effectively.
Despite nearly universal recognition of Warne's talents, his reputation with fans and cricket authorities is mixed. In 1998, he was forced to admit that he had taken money to provide pitch and weather reports from a man later discovered to be operating with bookmakers. While such an offence was trivial compared to the likes of Hansie Cronje who took money to throw matches, the extreme naivete Warne avowed struck many observers as somewhat dubious. His exuberance and occasional intemperate remarks and actions on and off the field have also not endeared him to the more conservative parts of the cricketing public and officialdom. His private life has also been subjected to scrutiny by British tabloid newspapers.
After several years of indifferent performances, Warne had much success in the 2001 Ashes series in England.
In February 2003 during the 2003 cricket World Cup, Warne was sent home in sensational circumstances after a positive drugs test for a banned diuretic from the one-day series in Australia earlier in the year.
In a PR blitz Warne initially claimed that he took only one of what he called a "fluid tablet" - the prescription drug Moduretic - in an attempt to improve his appearance, and claimed ignorance of the banned nature of the tablet he took, as well as much of the drug policy of the Australian Cricket Board (despite extensive briefings on the matter in the past).
Charged with using "a prohibited method to enhance performance", Warne faced a two-year ban from cricket if found guilty. Extensive pressure was placed on the panel by comments from Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, who in comments described by the head of the Australian Sports Drug Agency as "highly inappropriate", poured scorn on Warne's excuse and stated that Australian sport was well-known for accusing others for cheating but was considerably less enthusiastic about prosecuting its own. Pound's comments were however at least partly endorsed by members of Olympic sports such as retired swimming champion Kieren Perkins, who expressed concern that a lenient verdict would make a mockery of Australia's stand against drugs in sport.
In the end, the panel found Warne guilty of breaching the ACB's drug code, and imposed a one-year ban. It was further revealed, and confirmed by Warne in a subsequent television interview, that he had actually taken two of the pills. Warne's testimony, and that of his mother's, was described by the panel as "vague and inconsistent". The panel decided against invoking the full two year ban because the drug would have had no performance-enhancing effect, there was no evidence that Warne was using the diuretic to mask steroid use, and that medical opinion stated that steroids would have not have enhanced Warne's recovery or assisted his game in any case. A disappointed Warne initially considered appealing, but decided against it, as several people, including Pound, pointed out that the penalty could have been increased if an appeal was made.
During his suspension he has considered working for the St. Kilda Saints Australian rules football club as an assistant coach, before the Australian Football League told the club that it would be inappropriate to have somebody convicted of sports drug offences advising its players. He has also been offered chance to play in various celebrity "park cricket" teams, and the newly renamed Cricket Australia has reserved its decision on whether Warne, as a contracted player, should be allowed to play in such matches.
Shane Warne currently has come under criticism for text messaging women whilst on tour, sending lewd and harassing messages. However the woman, Helen Cohen Alon, who made the claims has been charged with extortion in her own country.
During his enforced break from cricket due to suspension, Warne became a popular TV commentator for Channel 9 in Australia.
On completion of his suspension Shane was immediately rushed back into the Victorian and the Australian test cricket team. He took his 500th test wicket, Hashan Tillakaratne, in the first test against Sri Lanka at Galle. He is only the second bowler after Courtney Walsh to do so, followed closely by his main spin bowling rival, Muttiah Muralitharan. However, Muralitharan beat him to the world record of 519 for the amount of test wickets taken, previously set by Courtney Walsh of the West Indies.