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The Roar



52 and 99: How we’ll forever remember Warne and Bradman

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7th March, 2022

I was one of the lucky few to be at the SCG on the first and last day of Shane Warne’s Test career.  

Spinners sometimes have blockbuster debuts, but not Warnie. In his first Test in 1992 he took 1-150, only dismissing Ravi Shastri, who had already scored 206. No one guessed we were actually watching the start of a new era.

In 2007 Warne played his last Test, retiring alongside Justin Langer and Glenn McGrath as Australia won the Ashes 5-0. By that stage, Australia had been undisputed champions of world cricket for a decade.  

It all seems like yesterday.

Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne leave the MCG

(Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

Shane Warne and Don Bradman have been compared a few times over the past few days but interestingly, the numbers 52 and 99 may now come to be forever associated with both of them.

The 52 represents loss while the 99 ironically signifies imperfection.

Dying at 52, we will forever now wonder what more Warnie could have brought to life, his family, cricket or the world if he lived another ten to 20 years.


Only last week, Warne expressed interest in coaching England: one can only imagine what a flipper that might have been for world cricket.

For Bradman, 52 was the number of Tests he played in a career disrupted by World War Two. What would Bradman have averaged, indeed what could the world have achieved, if wars had not completely disrupted the 20th century? It’s a question pertinent to today.

Bradman famously retired on an average of 99.94, dismissed in his final innings for a duck, just four runs shy of the perfect average.  

Meanwhile, 99 is Warne’s highest Test score (although he was caught out on what was clearly a no ball).

There have been some calls this week for Warnie to be awarded that missing run from his 99 against NZ. There have also been past attempts to credit the Don with four missing runs, with historians claiming a four-run error in a 1929 Test.

Australia's best-ever Don Bradman

(PA Images via Getty Images)


I think they should leave it all as is.  

Because the gap between 99 and 100 is actually a big part of what made Warne and Bradman great: an almost insatiable quest for success coupled with a humble acceptance of imperfection.

It used to be said that Michael Jordan held the record for the most missed shots in NBA history. The late, great Kobe Bryant now holds that record. 

But MJ did say: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” 

It was Warne’s persistence, just like Bradman repeatedly hitting the golf ball with the stump, that resulted in two cricketers in a realm of their own.

But for me, what stood out the most was not Warnie’s masterful bowling but a recent and lesser-known interview where he expressed his sincere love for his family and regrets for his past behaviour: “I’m embarrassed and hurt that I let them down as their father, and as a husband to Simone I wasn’t very good.”

Despite his flaws, Warne clearly loved his family and will be deeply missed.


Vale Warnie, or as was often heard on the pitch by Adam Gilchrist, “Bowling Shane!”

May he rest in peace.