Warne bows out of MCG scene with pure fi­nesse

Townsville Bulletin - - Cricket -

LIKE an age­ing crooner Shane Warne closed his last home­town con­cert by tug­ging the bow tie loose, pulling up a stool and invit­ing the spot­light to hover on him while he went through his best-loved num­bers.

First came a re­minder that he’s al­ways been a dab hand with the bat.

He opened his vale­dic­tory per­for­mance by smack­ing his way to a rich and ac­com­plished 40, re­plete with cover drives, up­per­cuts and lusty pulls that a player half his age would be proud to own.

And just so there would be noth­ing to tar­nish his last in­nings on the MCGhe re­mained un­beaten at the end of Aus­tralia’s im­pos­ing 419.

The old rogue might even have been en­ter­tain­ing thoughts of mark­ing the oc­ca­sion with a cen­tury, about the only thing that has eluded him dur­ing a phe­nom­e­nal ca­reer.

But he ran out of part­ners when Glenn McGrath made the 35th duck of his ca­reer and nudged War­ney aside as Aus­tralia’s great­est com­piler of noughts in the his­tory of Test cricket.

Even that seems to have worked out for him. Now for the clos­ing set. He be­gan with the mel­low leg-break and the au­di­ence of 79,000 hummed along dur­ing the cho­rus.

Next came the wrong’un, some­thing he has saved for spe­cial oc­ca­sions in the past.

Be­tween num­bers he gave us the usual ra­tion of ex­trav­a­gant ap­peals fol­lowed by looks of wounded in­dig­na­tion, a skill he has mas­tered as surely as Mar­cel Marceau.

Warne even reached into the archives and pro­duced his flip­per, a num­ber he’s scarcely brought out since the 1990s.

It made an ap­pear­ance last ball be­fore tea — an­other of his spe­cial­i­ties — and only a splin­ter of wood from the Eng­land cap­tain’s bat saved him from a cer­tain lbw.

Af­ter tea he tried a few more and when one of them crashed into Sa­jid Mah­mood’s back pad and um­pire Aleem Dar raised his fin­ger, it brought forth from Warne a look of sheer joy and ful­fil­ment.

It took him back to the day in 1992 when he got West Indies great Richie Richard­son with a sim­i­lar ball on this very ground.

Time now for a high, loop­ing teaser that brought him within a cen­time­tre of a stump­ing.

No mat­ter, he had Steve Harmi­son lbw a cou­ple of balls later.

As the game drifted to its de­noue­ment, the re­sult be­gan to mat­ter less and less.

The Ashes have been safe since be­fore Christ­mas. It was all about War­ney.

So what can top a day like this? Noth­ing, surely. But wait. The old ma­gi­cian has one more up his sleeve.

He was chaired off with 706 Test wick­ets to his name.

Add 293 one-day in­ter­na­tional wick­ets, and it be­comes 999.

He’ll save No. 1000 for Syd­ney.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.