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Over and out: Aging champion calls it quits

Ace legspinner Shane Warne could concentrate on doing his thing regardless of his personal upheavals.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2007 16:27 IST

The international cricket arena has been Shane Warne's sanctuary for 15 years, the place where he could concentrate on doing his thing regardless of his personal upheavals.

Amid the salacious headlines detailing sex scandals, lurid text messages, the doping ban, the wrongful links with an Indian bookmaker, the divorce on the cricket field it was always business as usual for Warne, who retired on Friday as the leading Test wicket taker of all time.

He will miss playing for Australia, he admits it. Though his 37-year-old body, he said, has been giving him reminders that it is time to quit.

What he won't miss in retirement is the constant scrutiny of his private life.

"Hopefully it'll keep people off my front lawn, following me around in cars, all those type of things. Hopefully that will die down," he said. "I won't miss that at all."

"Maybe I can get my gear off and dance on top of a bar if I want to."

Nothing, it seems, is ever beyond Shane Warne.

The player who entered the scene as a pudgy and self-assured heavy smoking, baked beans-eating slow bowler in 1992, has evolved into one of the biggest personalities in the game and will leave an enduring legacy on it.

Warne will miss the team environment as much as the team will miss him.

"It'll be pretty hard to replace 15 or 16 seasons of your life on top of the world really,' he said. Since a series win in the West Indies in 1995, "we started to dominate rather than just win.

"We've dominated international cricket, except for a couple of hiccups --once in India and the 2005 Ashes -- along the way. In general, we've dominated world cricket.

"Yes, it will be hard to replace that stuff, but you just find a way to do whatever you have to do."

Warne plans to see out the remainder of his contract with English county Hampshire, where interest in him will no doubt still be intense.

One Englishman who said he would have liked to see Warne still playing for Australia in the 2009 Ashes series in England was celebrity television interviewer Michael Parkinson.

He thought Warne would not have retired if he had been Australian captain, something that eluded the legspinner during his career mainly because of off-field issues.

Parkinson said in the context of Warne's career, his deeds on the field should count for more than anything.

"The good thing about Shane Warne, for all the faults that people perceive in him, is that he's not a hypocrite," said Parkinson, a keen cricket fan who was at the Sydney Cricket Ground for Warne's last Test match.

"He admits to his faults andwill talk about them."

"I have a view that his only obligation is to the audience as an entertainer and a cricketer - and the rest is private.

First Published: Jan 05, 2007 13:43 IST