Remembering Shane Warne the batter: The Australian legend’s greatest innings

Australian spin legend Shane Warne took 708 Test wickets over a career that spanned 15 years. However, what is sometimes forgotten is that he was also a supremely entertaining batsman.

Warne, who tragically died last week aged 52, holds the record of being the man to hit the most Test runs without scoring a century.

He amassed more than 3,000 runs at an average of just above 17, and proved to be an incredibly useful lower-order option in the all-conquering Australian side of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Here, Planet Sport recounts some of his most memorable innings as a batter.

74no vs New Zealand (1993)

Warne's maiden Test fifty was never going to be amassed quietly, was it? A little under two years after his debut, playing his 20th Test match, he entered the fray in Australia's first - and as it turned out, only - innings in Brisbane. His side stood at a colossal 465 for six, leading their Trans-Tasman neighbours by 232 runs.

He had already claimed 4-66 in New Zealand's first innings to bowl them out for 233, and the Aussie batters had then built on that, with captain Allan Border (105) and Steve Waugh hitting centuries. Warne, for his part, shared an unbroken stand of 142 with Waugh, who went on to make 147 not out.

Warne's knock came off 110 balls, giving him the second highest strike rate of the Australian innings, behind only Mark Waugh. Australia went on to post 607 for six declared, before bowling New Zealand out again for 278 as they won by an innings and 96 runs. Naturally, Warne took another four for 59 in the second innings.

86 vs Pakistan (1999)

Six years later, Australia were back in Brisbane, with Pakistan their opposition this time, and by now, Warne was an experienced international, playing in his 76th Test. Again batting at number eight, he came in with Australia, somewhat remarkably, again on exactly 465 for six; this time, they led by 98.

Warne had earlier taken just one wicket against Pakistan's more spin-proficient batters in their innings, that of opener Saeed Anwar for 61, as the tourists had racked up 367. Michael Slater then went on to make 169, and Mark Waugh exactly 100, before Warne entered the action to partner Adam Gilchrist.

His swashbuckling batting saw him face just 90 balls - a rapid innings by today's standards, let alone two decades ago. He smashed Mushtaq Ahmed for three sixes in one over before becoming the last man out in an Australian total of 575, and then went on to pick up two more wickets in Pakistan's second innings as they were bowled out for 281. The hosts knocked off the resulting victory target of 74 inside 15 overs to win by ten wickets.

99 vs New Zealand (2001)

Perhaps Warne's most famous, yet simultaneously most heartbreaking, moment with the bat came two years later, as Australia again squared off with New Zealand. With Warne approaching his 100th Test, Australia faced their neighbours in Perth, though this time, somewhat unusually for the era, found themselves up against it.

The Kiwis batted first, and Warne had taken one wicket, that of Lou Vincent, in their total of 534 for nine declared. Justin Langer (75) and Damien Martyn (60) led Australia's response, but they were still 192 for six, trailing by almost 350, when Warne walked to the middle.

He hauled his side back into contention with successive partnerships of 78 and 72 with Martyn and Brett Lee, respectively, racing past fifty himself and into the eighties. When number ten Jason Gillespie fell, Australia were in a healthier position of 346 for nine, trailing by 188, but Warne still needed six more for his maiden Test ton.

He took five of them off Shane Bond's next over, crucially retaining the strike, as last man Glenn McGrath watched on. Up stepped a fellow spinner, the bespectacled Daniel Vettori, with three dots beginning his over. On the fourth ball, Vettori pitched it full, and Warne went after it, hoicking into the leg side. Glory? No, agony. Mark Richardson ran in from deep midwicket, pouched the catch and Warne's dreams were gone.

He was the last man out as Australia posted 351, a first-innings deficit of 183, and New Zealand then declared again on 256 for nine, Warne taking another solitary wicket, as they set a victory target of 440. It was only thanks to some stubborn second-innings resistance that the Australians dug in for a draw.

63 vs South Africa (2002)

Five months after Warne's narrow shortfall, Australia travelled to South Africa, where he played his 100th Test match in Cape Town. Naturally, he marked the achievement by receiving the player-of-the-match award, claiming eight wickets in total as Australia pulled off a remarkable victory in an engrossing contest.

Having opted to bat first, the home side posted 239, with Warne picking up two wickets. Adam Gilchrist then top-scored with an unbeaten 138 in the Aussies' reply of 382, but it was Warne who truly saved their innings. Entering the action with his side struggling at 185 for six, still 54 in arrears, he proceeded to put on 132 with Gilchrist for the seventh wicket, facing just 65 balls as he blasted ten fours and a six.

His game-changing knock handed the tourists a first-innings lead of 143. South Africa did hit back with a colossal 473 in their second innings, despite Warne's six-wicket haul, to set Australia a tricky, but by no means unreachable, target of 331 for victory. Ricky Ponting made exactly 100, sealing victory with a six, but who was with him at the end? Naturally, it was Warne, who finished unbeaten on 15 to help steer his side over the line.

90 vs England (2005)

Sahen Warne batting vs England Aug05

It would be impossible to compile a list of Warne's best achievements in any regard without mentioning at least once how much he tormented England. He claimed a total of 195 Test wickets against Australia's oldest rivals, but in the third Test of a thrilling 2005 Ashes series, it was with the bat that he put the Three Lions to the sword.

Having taken his 600th Test scalp among four wickets in England's first innings, in which they made 444, Warne then proceeded to top-score in Australia's response. He came in at 133 for five, with Australia staring down the barrel, but shepherded the tail effectively.

He faced only 122 balls himself, again another remarkably swift innings considering the match situation, but would fall short of his fabled ton, hooking Simon Jones to Ashley Giles at fine leg. As it was, Australia had manoeuvred themselves into a healthier position; they still trailed by over 100, but crucially, had avoided the follow-on.

England declared their second innings on 280 for six, setting the tourists 423 and hoping to force a victory that would have seen them take a 2-1 lead in the series. However, they encountered firm resistance, led by captain Ricky Ponting, who made 156, and Warne himself hung around for over an hour-and-a-half to guide Australia to a match-saving 371 for nine and leave the series level.

Shane Warne 50 vs England Ashley Giles Aug05

71 vs England (2007)

Warne was back at it against England just under 18 months later. He signed off in his last ever Test, played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with a knock that contributed to Australia taking a crushing victory in the final match of the 2006/07 Ashes. The hosts would win the series 5-0, and Warne would go out on the highest of highs. Well, was there ever likely to be any other outcome?

In a recurring theme for when Warne produced an impressive showing with the bat, Australia batted second, replying to England's 291 all out in which Warne had taken one wicket. Although they were responding to a certainly below-par total, they did look in a spot of bother at 190 for five.

That was, until Adam Gilchrist and Warne entered the fray, making 62 and 71 respectively, to guide the hosts into a first-innings lead of 102. Warne's belligerence was again on full show, as he faced just 65 balls in what would turn out to be his very last Test innings.

It would turn out that way because, in another example of 'shock, horror!', England folded in their second innings! Yes, the tourists then made just 147, handing Australia a nominal target of 46 for victory, which they passed with aplomb and without losing a wicket.

It was a fitting way for a nation of cricket-lovers to wave one of their greatest ever off into the sunset as Warne departed the international arena aged 37.

Shane Warne Australia vs England Jan07

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