Nasser Hussain

Cricket Expert & Columnist

Nasser Hussain on Shane Warne: “Some people are brilliant at the game, some people are genius, some people have fight. Shane Warne had everything in abundance… A great character, a larger than life character. And he was so in love with the game”

Last Updated: 05/03/22 11:34am

Nasser Hussain pays tribute to 'the king of spin' Shane Warne, where he remembers facing and working with the legend of the game

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Nasser Hussain pays tribute to ‘the king of spin’ Shane Warne, where he remembers facing and working with the legend of the game

Nasser Hussain pays tribute to ‘the king of spin’ Shane Warne, where he remembers facing and working with the legend of the game

Sky Sports Cricket’s Nasser Hussain hails Shane Warne as ‘the greatest cricketer to ever play the game’, following the passing of the Australian spin-bowling great on Friday.

For me, he was arguably the greatest cricketer to ever play the game.

The game is about entertaining people and there was never a dull moment when Shane Warne had the ball in his hand. He was absolutely genius.

Leg spin was a dying art before he burst onto the scene; we had never heard of a ‘flipper’, and then suddenly he used to set us up with it. He’d bowl us a ball that was short and you’d think ‘ah, Shane has lost it today’, and then the very next ball was the flipper and it was through us. He was an outstanding cricketer.

A look back at the career of Shane Warne, who has passed away at the age of 52

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A look back at the career of Shane Warne, who has passed away at the age of 52

A look back at the career of Shane Warne, who has passed away at the age of 52

When Australia really needed him in that 2005 Ashes series, when England were all over them and they were crumbling, there was one Aussie that stood up and said ‘not today’. He got wickets by the shed load, he got runs by the shed load too and he showed a lot of fight and a lot of character.

Some people are brilliant at the game, some people are genius, some people have fight. Shane Warne had everything in abundance.

Shane Warne took 40 wickets in the thrilling 2005 Ashes series - watch them all here...

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Shane Warne took 40 wickets in the thrilling 2005 Ashes series – watch them all here…

Shane Warne took 40 wickets in the thrilling 2005 Ashes series – watch them all here…

He was also a very, very smart cricketer as we’ve seen in the commentary box since he retired from the game.

‘Cricket was in his DNA’

He was unique, very professional. You’d think he’d turn up half an hour late and say ‘I’m Shane Warne, I turn up when I want’.

If you told him to be there at 10am for a Sky Sports News cross, he would be there at 10am. If you told him what he should be wearing, he’d be ringing up the director checking three times what am I supposed to be wearing.

Shane Warne gives a masterclass on the art of spin bowling while in Durham during the 2013 Ashes

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Shane Warne gives a masterclass on the art of spin bowling while in Durham during the 2013 Ashes

Shane Warne gives a masterclass on the art of spin bowling while in Durham during the 2013 Ashes

We did a famous masterclass at Durham a long time ago, and he would be in there preparing meticulously. In fact, before we went live, he was all over the place with bowling, but once we went live and the pressure was on he nailed it and he got me and Andrew Strauss out about five times.

He’d have a load of fun and we’d have a load of fun with him. Some of the stuff that myself and Michael Atherton, Ian Ward and Rob Key did with him – he could laugh with us and take the mick and he was great fun in return.

A great character, a larger than life character. And he was so in love with the game.

Former England captain Michael Atherton pays tribute to Shane Warne and describes him as the most intelligent bowler he has ever played against

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Former England captain Michael Atherton pays tribute to Shane Warne and describes him as the most intelligent bowler he has ever played against

Former England captain Michael Atherton pays tribute to Shane Warne and describes him as the most intelligent bowler he has ever played against

He’d text us from Australia, saying ‘why is this bowler on?’ – it would be a T20 Blast game and he’d be telling us what the captain should be doing. Cricket was in his DNA, he absolutely loved it.

‘He’d be sledging me that’s for sure’

Nasser recalls a famous one-day international between England and Australia in 1999 in which he hit 58 and was seemingly steering England to victory until his dismissal to Warne triggered a collapse of six wickets for 22 runs and a 10-run defeat.

We were absolutely coasting it,

I was at the crease, Shane was bowling, he was captain, and he was up there sledging me that’s for sure.

I was saying ‘enjoy your last game as captain, you will never captain Australia again’ – and then 15 minutes later I was walking off, stumped by Adam Gilchrist, bowled by Warne, and I got the big send-off from Warne back to the sheds. I can’t tell you the other words he said to me!

Shane Warne celebrates the dismissal of Nasser Hussain as England collapse to a 10-run ODI defeat against Australia in 1999

Shane Warne celebrates the dismissal of Nasser Hussain as England collapse to a 10-run ODI defeat against Australia in 1999

But to be fair to Shane, when you got runs against him, he would be the first person to come into your changing room or see you around the corner and say ‘you played pretty well today mate, that was a serious knock’. Shane played tough on the field but he was also very fair, very willing to give praise to the opposition.

It was in equal measure the worst thing you wanted to do in your life and the best thing. You want to be 25 yards away from the greatest bowler that ever played the game.

If you can visualise me standing there with my England helmet on, Shane Warne flicking the ball from one hand to the other, the blonde locks, the zinc, the flared trousers, the inevitable sledge when you got the other end, it was unbelievable theatre, and you knew you were part of it.

But there was only one king of that theatre, and that’s why he was named the king.

He had great belief he could win from any position. When England got 550 under Andrew Flintoff’s captaincy in 2016-17, Warne was the man that told the Australian side ‘we can still win from this position’, and Warne was the man on the last day that bowled Australia to a famous victory.

Former England captain Andrew Strauss pays tribute to Shane Warne and explains what made him so special both on and off the pitch

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Former England captain Andrew Strauss pays tribute to Shane Warne and explains what made him so special both on and off the pitch

Former England captain Andrew Strauss pays tribute to Shane Warne and explains what made him so special both on and off the pitch

‘There will never be another Shane Warne’

The thing that stood out about him for me as well was how generous he was with people and in and around the game. We would be leaving a packed Edgbaston, a packed Lord’s, and when you’re Shane Warne walking out of a venue with 30,000 people, there’s only one person that people want to talk to and that’s him.

‘Shane give us an autograph, Shane give us a photo’, and Shane used to stop for every single one and have time for every individual. He treated people how he found them.

You speak to cricketers, you look at the reaction, he is Shane Warne. There will never be another Shane Warne.