The Reuters global sports blog
When Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels came close to trading blows at the jam-packed MCG, it made for great TV viewing.
Sadly, in a sport like cricket which has always been considered a “gentleman’s game”, it wasn’t an aberration.
You see it more and more these days – be it international matches, domestic ties – or any televised game.
Like Warne, most of players admit that everything happens in the “heat of the moment”.
“Bowling, Shane” are not words English batsmen would want to hear ever again, but how would the Australians react to Shane Warne making an astonishing return to answer his nation’s plea for help in the wake of the second test defeat to the ‘Poms’?
To say Warne was England’s primary Ashes tormentor for years and years is an understatement. Every time the leg spinner had the ball in his hand he had the opposition quaking, and even off the pitch he was a handful.
Garfield Sobers stirred a minor controversy when he stated a preference for India’s Subhash Gupte ahead of Shane Warne in a mythical all-time World XI.
In an introduction to “In a League of their Own”, a recently released book in which 100 great cricketers select their ideal XI, Sobers said he found it too difficult to select his greatest team.
Prodigious spin propelled by an abnormally strong wrist and an iron resolve forged in bitter acrimony over his unique action took Muttiah Muralitharan to unprecedented heights in world cricket.
Muralitharan, 38, took his 800th test wicket with his final ball in 133 tests on Thursday. With Twenty20 cricket cutting increasingly into the test programme it is a mark that is unlikely ever to be exceeded.
Australia have no Shane Warne, no Glenn McGrath, no Brett Lee and no Stuart Clark, yet England still managed to lose three wickets on the opening morning of the first Ashes Test and failed to take the sort of grip on the match, and the series, that was there for the taking.
They lost four more wickets over the course of the day, to finish on 336 for seven, but it was a case of England playing themselves into trouble rather than any genuine menace on the part of the Aussie attack (the exception being the beautiful inducker from Peter Siddle that did for Matt Prior late on).
Australia captain Ricky Ponting will be praying that the rumours of a sideways turning Cardiff wicket prove to be complete fallacy when the Ashes series begins on Wednesday.
Ponting’s team have been bereft of a front-line spinner since the retirement of the mercurial Shane Warne in 2007 and Stuart McGill shortly after.
When England nightwatchman James Anderson smashed West Indies seamer Lionel Baker for four late on the first day of the second test he extended one of the more surprising records in test cricket.
The fast bowler has now played 48 test innings without being dismissed for a duck, three more than his nearest rival Yasir Hameed of Pakistan.
Greg Bos, Reuters Sports Pictures Editor, chooses an outstanding picture from last week:
“It’s not the action that counts here, but the photo opportunity of a formula one driver playing cricket. You can draw your own conclusions whether or not Lewis Hamilton would be able to break into the England cricket team. They could sure use some help.”
Shane Warne didn’t conceal his contempt for coaches during his playing days. Coaches, Warne reckoned, were needed only to transport players to the ground.
In retirement, the great leg-spinner has not modified his views and is scathing, in particular, of the modern obsession with physical fitness.