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I'm just trying to win the game: Warne

Leg spinner Warne, who took his series tally to 33 wickets, denied the tourists were a one-man team.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2005 13:11 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Shane Warne insisted he was focused on retaining the Ashes and little else after taking five for 118 on the first day of the fifth and final Test against England at The Ovalon Thursday.

England, who closed on 319 for seven after captain Michael Vaughan won the toss, had few answers to Warne and were indebted to opener Andrew Strauss's near six-hour 129.

Leg-spin legend Warne, 36 next week, yet againin this series carried the attack all but singlehandedly as Australia chased the victory that would enable them to level at 2-2 and so retain the Ashes they've held for 16 years.

Many players, including Australia batting great Don Bradman, have bowed out at The Oval which traditionally stages the last Test of an English season.

But Warne, who said beforehand this match would be his last Test in England, dismissed suggestions of finishing at The Oval if he bowled Australia to yet another victory.

"I don't think anyone likes to go out to a losing series," the world-record holder and the only man to have taken 600 Test wicketssaid.

"I haven't played in one against England before and if we play well here it will be the same, it will be 2-2 and hopefully we can retain the Ashes but that's a long way ahead at the moment."

"I don't think anyone wants to make rash decisions about anything. It's been a fascinating series," said Warne, who in June announced he was separating from his wife Simone after a series of lurid newspaper revelations.

"I don't want to think about that stuff at the moment, I'm just trying to win the game and do the best I can as I have every single game in this series and every single time I play for Australia. I was pretty proud of my efforts today," he added after coming on as early as the 14th over.

"I bowled 34 overs, 18 straight, it shows what a fit athlete can do," joked Warne, who was banned for a year in 2003 because of a failed dope test incurred when he took a slimming pill.

Warne, who took his series tally to 33 wickets -- the most by an Australia bowler in a five-match campaign in England -- and has also scored more runs (249) than frontline batsmen Simon Katich, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn in the first four Tests, denied the tourists were a one-man team.

"No I don't think so. The guys built pressure up at the other end. I suppose that's something we haven't been able to do, bowl in partnerships but today I got the results from some good partnership bowling."

Meanwhile Strauss said of his seventh Test century: "In terms of importance it's probably the best I've ever played. Today was a massive day in the context of the series and it was vitally important that at least one of us went on and got a hundred.

"It's got to be tempered by the fact I got out towards the end but I'll wake up tommorow morning feeling pretty happy with life."

Warne's 31st five-wicket Test haul was all the more impressive for being achieved on such a lifeless surface and Strauss added: "He has been awesome all series and today was no exception."

"Early on it wasn't really turning for him but he was still a threat, getting the ball to skid through and hurry up for pace. It just shows the variety at his disposal and it's a fantastic effort, taking five wickets on the first day of a Test match."

"He's obviously a great bowler and every time you face him it's a massive challenge," said Strauss.

But Strauss, who like Warne said he expected England left-arm spinner Ashley Giles to be a key factor in an attack minus injured reverse swing specialist Simon Jones, who had taken 18 wickets at just 21 apiece in the series, was upbeat about England's position.

"If we can get 370 plus, I think we're very much in the game. But even less, with runs on the board you are never out of the game.

"It's obviously going to be very important in Australia's first innings how we bowl at them and how they react to the situation," said the English opener.

First Published: Sep 09, 2005 12:55 IST