In a highly impressive media conference performance, Shane Warne officially ended his international cricketing career shortly after 12.30pm today, announcing that the fifth and final Ashes Test in Sydney would be his final appearance for Australia.

It might have come as a shock for the world’s cricket fans, but Warne admitted his career had been prolonged by last year’s Ashes loss. Winning the Ashes back has been a personal mission “no matter how long it took”.

Today’s announcement has been six months in the making and was finalised in a dressing room conversation with Ricky Ponting just days ago, after Australia won back the Ashes in Perth.

“I wanted to put the team ahead of the decision. It may have had to wait until the last day in Sydney,” an almost jovial Warne told a packed Members’ Dining Room at the MCG.

“I sit here with every single international cricket trophy in the Cricket Australia offices. I wanted to retire on top and on my own terms, and the way the series has played out has let me do that.”

Even Warne’s children weren’t aware that he was announcing his retirement today. When he told them yesterday, Warne said they were disappointed: “They thought it meant I wouldn’t be playing in the backyard with them again.”

As well as resigning from the Australian team, Warne will not play again for Victoria or his club side St Kilda, but will see out the remaining two years of his contract with county side Hampshire.

Sitting in front of reporters, the Shane Warne of 2006 is a vastly more polished media performer than throughout most of his career. There was little emotion on display, yet he spoke with a genuine sense of satisfaction about what, in his own words, has been a “phenomenal”, “amazing” and “unbelievable” career. 

Peter Fray

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