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Sydney sunset for Warne, McGrath?

Aussie leg-spinner Shane Warne and fast bowler Glenn McGrath are planning to retire from int'l cricket after the fifth Ashes Test against England.

india Updated: Dec 21, 2006 00:07 IST

Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne and fast bowler Glenn McGrath are planning to retire from international cricket after next month’s fifth Ashes Test against England, Australian television reported on Wednesday.

The ChannelNine Network said Warne would announce his pending retirement at a news conference in Melbourne on Thursday, but did not say when McGrath planned to make his decision.

Cricket Australia officials were unable to confirm the report. “There is nothing we can say,” CA spokesman Peter Young said.

“These two players are the masters of their own destiny and the owners of their own futures and when they announce decisions on their futures is up to them.”

Rumours of Warne’s retirement have been circulating in the Australian media for years and Wednesday’s report ironically came on the same day that he wrote a column for a Sydney newspaper saying he had no immediate plans to quit.

However, the 37-year-old hinted his career was drawing closer to an end after helping Australia regain the Ashes in the third Test in Perth, which ended on Monday. 

“These are the things you’re going to miss,” he said in a televised interview.  “I’m closer to the end than the bloody start.”

Warne already has 699 Test scalps and is poised to become the first man to reach the once-unimaginable 700 barrier when the fourth Ashes Test starts in his home town Melbourne next Tuesday.

McGrath is third on the all-time list of wicket-takers behind Warne and Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, but with 555 victims, he is the leading fast bowler.

The 36-year-old has been troubled by injuries in the past few seasons and took 10 months off to care for his ill wife.

No official confirmation yet these Reports have caught the cricket world off guard. While there has been no official confirmation that Warne will step down, Australia is buzzing with the news of their retirement.

“I haven’t heard anything official yet from Cricket Australia and people have been ringing me non-stop,” David Boon, an Australia selector, told AAP. “I don’t know when he’s proposing to do it officially or whether it’s just rumour. I don’t know.”

John Buchanan, the Australia coach, said he was not commenting “at this stage”. Ian Healy said he would not say anything until the announcement was official, but he said it was hard to believe that Warne could be so close to leaving the game.

Allan Border, who captained Warne for several years, said that Warne was in superb form and did not need to retire. “It’s just caught everyone by surprise,” Border said. “I just got the inkling that he was even considering one more tilt at England in England and that would see him out. I suppose there’s a lot of innuendo about what the reasons are ... I'm in a bit of a state of shock.”

Ian Chappell said both Warne and McGrath would be choosing the ideal moment to retire if the Sydney Test was their last.

“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.”