Mitchell Marsh, Warner most impressive - Warne
Shane Warne, the latest inductee to Australian cricket's hall of fame, believes David Warner and Mitchell Marsh have the talent and poise to join the rarefied company of the hall's members by the time their careers are out.
On Monday, at the Allan Border Medal ceremony in Melbourne, Warne will be added to the honour roll that began in 1996 and includes such luminaries as Donald Bradman, Dennis Lillee, Ian Chappell and Bill O'Reilly.
Speaking about his receipt of the honour, Warne said Marsh and Warner had demonstrated most clearly to him the potential to go on to great things for Australia in future summers. Warner has made a Test place his own this season, while also advancing his case as a potential leader, and Marsh has impressed as an allrounder, though currently sidelined by injury.
"We've got an exciting bunch of young players in the domestic competition this year," Warne said. "The stand-out players for me were probably Mitchell Marsh - if we don't rush him, we're patient with him, encourage him, let his body develop and start to get a bit more experience, then I think he's going to be a real superstar in cricket.
"David Warner, it was great to see him playing Test cricket this year, I've always said that I thought he could play all forms of the game. So David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, those two have been the stand outs for me and I hope they go on to big things."
Warne's entry into the hall of fame was more or less guaranteed from the moment it was first proposed in 1995 by the Melbourne Cricket Club, his place in the pantheon demonstrated by the unveiling of a Warne statue at the MCG this summer. Nevertheless, Warne was thrilled to join the list, confirming his now comfortable standing with the establishment after plenty of drama and disagreements during his playing days.
"To be inducted into the hall of fame is just a massive honour," Warne said. "It's a privilege, it makes me feel very, very proud. I'm glad I'm sharing that moment with my children and my family. So many wonderful players have been induced into the hall of fame, to be the only player this time, so soon after my retirement [is special]. To be among those names it's an unbelievable honour.
"I've been very lucky to have so many achievements and wonderful moments [while] playing in the Australian cricket team. It was a wonderful group of guys, we managed to win everywhere, home and away, we became the No. 1 team in the world for a long period of time, so there were so many wonderful achievements as a team. But I suppose my personal highlight was my first Test match in 1991-92, walking out onto the SCG, looking up at the scoreboard and it saying 'congratulations Shane Warne, you're the 350th Test cricketer playing for Australia'.
"As a team, my favourite tours were the 1993 Ashes tour and the 1994 tour to South Africa for the first time - after apartheid and all the problems over there, to go back there was an amazing experience. Winning World Cups, Ashes series … I've been very lucky to play in a wonderful era of Australian cricket and make so many friendships."
Looking at Australia's progress this summer, Warne spoke well of the performances of captain Michael Clarke, who Warne had befriended upon his entry to Test cricket in 2004. He also noted that the emergence of a strong cabal of bowling talent is a firm indicator of Australia's re-emergence as a global power after several years of mediocrity.
"I think it's an exciting time for Australian cricket. What we've seen this summer, India came out and Australia played extremely well, there are a lot of bowlers around …" Warne said. "So I think in the next 12 to 18 months we're going to see Australia surge back to No. 1 in the world. I think Michael Clarke's leadership has been fantastic. He's one of my closest and best friends, but I'm not biased at all. I give him a pretty hard time, I rile him hard and try to help him where I can."
As for his participation in the Twenty20 Big Bash League, Warne said a return next summer was unlikely. "Whether I'm going to play next year or not - I don't think so, but who knows I might. Eddie [McGuire, Melbourne Stars president] can be quite a persuasive man. But I enjoyed it."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here