Warne – it's over
Article from: Herald-Sun
SHANE Warne has retired from all forms of Australian cricket, simply announcing: "My time is now."
Cricket's greatest ever wicket-taker will farewell his army of hometown Melbourne fans at the Boxing Day Test at the MCG and end his 15-year Test career after the Sydney Test from January 2-6.
He is also quitting state cricket with Victoria and club cricket with St Kilda but will complete the final two years of his contract with English county side Hampshire.
Warne has claimed 699 wickets and set to break the magic 700 mark next week.
The often controversial, but always brilliant spin king, told a packed press conference at the MCG today that he was happy to announce his retirement having helped Australia win back the Ashes.
"I sit here a very happy man to get that urn back,'' Warne said.
"It's been unbelievable - my journey and ride in international cricket has been phenomenal.
"I don't think I could have written the script any better.''
The 37-year-old, who has played 143 Tests, is the only current player to be included in Wisden's top-five cricketers of the 20th century.
Warne said he was certain this was the right time for him to step down from Australian cricket.
"I thought I'd be sad,'' he said. "A lot of people said `You'll know when your time's up, you'll know when your time's right'.
"I sort of doubted that, I didn't really understand what they meant.
"I sit here in front of you today and I know exactly what they mean.
"My time is now and I couldn't have asked for things to go any better.''
He said it was ideal to play his second-last Test in Melbourne in front of his home crowd and family and friends.
Then finishing in Sydney, where his Test career began against India in January 1992, would provide the perfect end.
"It's still my proudest moment playing my first Test match, an amazing feeling,'' Warne said.
"To have an opportunity to walk off in Sydney where it all began a long time ago I think is a great opportunity and something to celebrate."
It's unclear whether McGrath will fully retire from the sport or play on until after the World Cup in the West Indies in March.
Former national chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said his panel never took for granted its luck in having two freakish campaigners in Warne and McGrath to anchor the side and said they would be sorely missed.
"They were just fabulous people to deal with – we were very lucky to have them both in the side at the same time," Hohns said.
"It is a sad day but it is also great that they have made the decision themselves and have not risked staying on too long."
Ian Chappell, leading batsman and Australian Test captain of the 1970s, said the timing was right for both Warne and McGrath to retire.
"I'm delighted for both of them that they are calling it a day at the end of this series," Chappell said.
"I think it's perfect timing for a champion player . . . if you make a mistake it's best to get out a little early than a little late."
In a glowing tribute to his former teammate, former Australian skipper Allan Border, who was shocked by the news of Warne's impending retirement, said the leg-spinner had been an ornament to the sport.
"Bradman, it's hard to make comparisons to that guy's record, but certainly the next level of cricketers . . . Warne is right there," Border said.
"He has been a breath of fresh air for the game. What he has done for the game is immeasurable really," Border said.
Tired of the demands of the job, it's understood Warne and McGrath felt they couldn't have scripted a better ending with Australia regaining the Ashes this week after last year's stunning defeat.
Boasting a glorious 143-Test career, Warne also has the lure of becoming the first man to take 700 Test wickets in what will be his final home Test at the MCG, beginning Boxing Day.
He will leave the game as the most successful bowler in history and the man who redefined leg-spin bowling at a time when it was almost extinct.
McGrath has emerged as the most prolific fast bowler in history, and has been the spearhead of Australia's attack since the breakthrough 1995 tour of the West Indies. He has 555 wickets in 122 Tests and will be remembered for his impeccable line and length.
Warne and McGrath were the bowling backbone of Australia's rise through the mid-1990s which culminated in the team holding the world's No. 1 ranking for the past decade.
They were instrumental in the 1999 World Cup victory, while McGrath was also part of the winning 2003 campaign.
Warne flagged retirement in August when he said an Ashes victory may provide the perfect ending to his career.
After this week's win in Perth, he seemed a content man. "The script couldn't have worked out any better," he said. "We have the Ashes urn back and I now have a chance to take my 700th wicket in front of my home crowd.
"It's amazing how my career has unfolded. Things just have a funny way of working out."