Photo Credit: ICC
Leg-spinner Alana King was one of millions stunned by the news of Shane Warne’s tragic passing at the age of 52.
A bowler entirely in the Warne mould, her tribute was one of the first to come out of the Australia camp at ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022.
Her post on Twitter read: “Cannot fathom the news I’ve woken up to. An idol & the biggest inspiration to me. Everyone wanted to be like Warnie and I was sure one of them.
“A character who revolutionised the art of spin bowling & brought plenty of flare to the game. You’ll be missed King.”
And when Australia and England took to the pitch for their World Cup opener, the tributes from King to her fellow Victorian kept coming as Australia downed England by 12 runs.
First, King, her teammates and opponents observed an impeccable minute’s silence in tribute to Warne and fellow Australian legend Rod Marsh who had died only hours before him, and they all took to the field wearing black armbands.
King was first called on to bowl in the 26th over. After a morning spent with her mind elsewhere and with England still charging at 133 for two, she would have been forgiven for not being at her best.
But that wasn’t Warne’s way, and neither would it be King’s.
With the third ball of her second over, she turned the ball prodigiously, mystifying Tammy Beaumont who till then had looked set.
Alyssa Healy – a great keeper, like Marsh – whipped off the stumps and Beaumont was forced to go for 74.
King was not moved by the match-turning wicket, instead she stood and pointed at the black armband around her bright yellow sleeve.
It was a reminder of the darkness the cricketing world is shrouded in with one of its shining lights extinguished.
England’s grip on the run chase was slipping and it was all because of King, in her next over she got Amy Jones, another turning delivery and this time a simple catch for centurion Rachel Haynes.
After Danni Wyatt fell to leave England at 177 for five, their hopes looked remote but Nat Sciver and Sophia Dunkley combined for a 56-run partnership.
Their challenge may have got easier when King was left crawling off the wicket, wincing in pain having been struck on the shins as Dunkley drove straight back to the bowler.
But King laughed, dusted herself off and with the very next ball bowled Dunkley for 28, her third wicket of the night as she took three for 35 from her first eight overs.
England would continue to fight back as they looked to chase down an improbable 311 to win, with Natalie Sciver and Katherine Brunt combining for a late flurry of runs.
In the end, Australia clung on for a 12-run win to defeat their greatest rivals, a result that would have put a smile on the face of Shane Keith Warne, because spin was king again.