Shane Warne wasn't always regarded as a future great at the beginning of his career, at least not by those who were not Australians. His debut in 1992 was difficult as Ravi Shastri and Sachin Tendulkar hit him all round the Sydney Cricket Ground. But things started to turn around for the blond leggie when he toured Sri Lanka.
By the time the Australian team arrived in England for the 1993 Ashes series, he was once again regarded as a blue-eyed boy of Australian cricket. But the English cricket fraternity was still sceptical. They all decided to look closely at this young cricketer to see whether he possessed all that talent which was being talked about.
The first exposure that English crowds were going to have to Warne's talent was during the first Test of the series, played at Old Trafford in Manchester, on June 3-7. On the second day of the game, Warne was introduced into the attack. The batsman facing him at the other end was Mike Gatting. The commentators mentioned the reputation of Warne and high expectations from him.
And the very first ball he bowled, in the series, in an Ashes Test, against the arch-rivals England, couldn't have been more awe-inspiring. It was a delivery that curved in sharply to pitch well outside the leg stump and then spun sharply to hit the top of off. Gatting was gobsmacked and stayed put at the crease trying to make sense of what happened.
Suddenly, Warne was no longer a budding talent but a big threat. It was the beginning of the legend of Shane Warne, one that was going to turn him into arguably the greatest leg-spinner of all time. Even 26 years later, the aura of that ball hasn't diminished. It is still regarded with as much fanfare now as it was back then. Every year, on its anniversary there are special shows on websites, radio stations or television to remember that delivery and Warne asked to reminisce about it.
This year again, Warne was reminded of this piece of history and he was as happy as ever to relive it. On Instagram, he posted the video of the ball and thanked his fans for their comments. "This delivery changed my life, but can't believe it was 26 years ago. Thank you for all the wonderful messages & what awesome commentary from the great Richie too," the man with over 700 Test wickets wrote.
The presence of Richie Benaud, a legendary Australian leg-spinner himself, in the commentary box was serendipitous. While it wasn't necessarily the only delivery from Warne that spun so much, the occasion, preceded by the anticipation, made it extremely special.