'Adelaide was my high point'
To choose his favourite Test matches over 15 years Shane Warne looked to the beginning and the end. Until less than three weeks ago, his best memory was his third Test, against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 1992, but it was eclipsed by Australia's remarkable comeback win at Adelaide to all but seal the return of the Ashes.
"I didn't think I'd ever top 1992 but Adelaide definitely pipped that," he said during his retirement announcement. "That's the best Test match I've played in."
The Colombo game, however, has always remained special for Warne and it was where he first realised he could make an impact at Test level. After taking 0 for 107 in the first innings, Warne watched on in the second as Sri Lanka pressed towards the 181 they needed for victory. Greg Matthews claimed four important wickets and with about 30 runs remaining, Warne, 22, weaved his magic.
"Allan Border told me to warm up and I thought 'oh no, we're in trouble here'," Warne said. "I came on and I bowled a maiden and I thought 'it's not over yet'. As the next couple of overs went on I took 3 for 0 and I sort of felt like I've actually finally contributed." He finished with 3 for 11 as Sri Lanka fell 17 short. It was the first of countless match-turning performances.
Warne said he could not have performed his great feats alone. Terry Jenner's influence has been well documented, but the man who has affected Warne the most is somebody he could end up sitting next to in the Channel 9 commentary box. "Ian Chappell has probably been the biggest influence on my cricket career," Warne said. "I would have loved to have played under Ian Chappell. I could listen to his stories and listen to him talk forever. Of all the people I've spoken to about cricket, he makes the most sense."
Australia's last great legspinner before Warne, Richie Benaud, also had a significant impact. "Richie is the man isn't he?" Warne said. "He knows everything about everything. He's great to talk to, he's good company, he's fun and he's a legspinner as well. He's helped me out through some tough times too, just the odd phone call here or there."
It could be Warne who Australia's next generation of slow bowlers turn to for advice. The spin stocks might look thin, with the exception of Stuart MacGill, but Warne said there were plenty of potential Test players itching for a chance. Dan Cullen, Cameron White, Cullen Bailey, Nathan Hauritz and Beau Casson are some of those who will compete to take his place.
"We're very lucky that we've got some excellent spin bowlers in the country," he said. "It's a matter of those guys taking their opportunities. It's probably a pretty good time to get some younger players into the side because we've got a very experienced side at the moment."