So long spinner
CRICKET fans with tickets to Melbourne’s Boxing Day Test or Sydney’s New Year Test should hold on to them.
Confirmation yesterday of Shane Warne’s retirement will raise their historical value appreciably, especially as the champion legspinner is one scalp away from becoming the first player to claim 700 Test wickets.
Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan is likely to surpass that one day, but Australians may never see Warne’s like again.
Warne, 37, will see out the last two years of a three-year contract with English county side Hampshire but is finished playing at all levels in Australia.
His departure is at the centre of a gaping loss of talent this summer, following the retirement of Damien Martyn, 35, and the expected i m m i n e n t e x i t o f G l e n n McGrath, 36.
But Warne emphatically ruled out any return to international or Australian domestic cricket.
‘‘I wanted to go out on top and I wanted to go out on my terms,’’ said the veteran of 699 wickets in 143 Tests, once described by Sir Donald Bradman as ‘the best thing that’s happened to the game for many, many years’.
Warne’s final ambition was to win the Ashes back — ‘unfinished business’ now taken care of after three successive victories over England.
He revealed he may well have retired last year if Australia had not lost the Ashes in England.
‘‘My journey has been phenomenal,’’ said Warne.
‘‘I couldn’t have asked for things to go any better, but my time (to retire) has come.’’
Wishing to be remembered as an entertainer who ‘tried his guts out’ every time he played, Warne said he had no idea what the future held for him.
It may include a spot on the Channel Nine commentary team, or cricket coaching or administration. It may include business ventures. It may even include more time with his divorced wife Simone, with whom he still shares a home in Melbourne.
‘‘Who knows what the future holds there?’’ was Warne’s tantalising question.
It will definitely include more time with his three children, who at first took news of his retirement harder than anyone.
‘‘They got a bit disappointed because they thought I wasn’t going to be playing back yard cricket with them any more,’’ said the world’s greatest bowler.
LAST HURRAH . . . the legendary spin bowler in action