Shane Warne in full flow in the 1993 Ashes

'Warne in a million' read one headline after the leg-spinner bowled Andrew Strauss in the third Test of the 2006/07 Ashes to become the first bowler in Test history to claim 700 wickets and few will disagree.

The 'king of spin' cemented his place as one of the all-time greats by claiming his 1,000th international victim and striking an explosive 71 to send fans at his home ground in Melbourne into raptures.

But then Warney did always have a sense of theatre. He was taken apart by Graeme Hick in a warm-up at Worcester on his first tour of England but - as requested by Allan Border - only bowled leg breaks to save his secrets for the Test series.

The tactic worked as beach-blond Warne emerged as leading wicket-taker with 34 scalps, including that of Mike Gatting with his very first ball in Ashes cricket. The delivery, subsequently labeled 'the ball of the century' drifted to outside leg before turning viciously to beat the edge and hit off.

Warne would remain at the heart of Australia's dominance for over a decade - dismissing 195 Englishman in 36 Ashes Tests, an incredible 40 of which came in the 2005 series defeat. Brett Lee was the next most potent bowler with 20 wickets.

Variety was as important a weapon as accuracy in Warne's armory as he demonstrated in the first Ashes Test of 1994/95 in Brisbane by registering career-best figures of 8-61 to bowl Australia to a 184-run victory.

Despite shoulder problems in the mid-nineties he continued to develop and perfect his game, deploying the slider or zooter and back-spinner to great effect. In 2000 he was selected as one of Wisden's five cricketers of the century.

Even though a Test ton eluded him, Warne's bright and breezy hitting made him a genuine threat down the order.

He was on track to eclipse his personal best of 99, scored against New Zealand in 1991, in the Old Trafford Test of 2005 until he fell for 90 while his dogged 34 second time helped Australia cling on for a draw.

Warne also became a permanent fixture in Australia's slip cordon and by the time he retired in early 2007 after 145 Tests, he had pouched 125 victims and now stands 11th on the all-time list of Test catches.