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Peter English at Melbourne
December 26, 2006
Almost everything Shane Warne touched at the MCG turned to farewell gold, but he didn't quite fulfil his plan to dismiss Andrew Strauss for his 700th wicket. Glenn McGrath asked Warne early in his spell how he was going to dismiss Strauss and the bowler's answer was half wrong.
"I said I'd bowl him through the gate sweeping," Warne said. "In that over I bowled him through the gate but it wasn't sweeping, it was driving. When that sort of stuff happens you know something is going right for you."
Strauss' dismissal sent Warne on a sprint towards the Great Southern Stand but he "got puffed" and had to stop before he was mobbed by his team-mates and celebrated by the crowd. Among the 89,155 spectators were his three children, parents and brother and he was still amazed by the emotion when he spoke after play.
"There are some special days that happen in your life and some special things that happen and that is definitely one of them," he said. "The birth of your children, getting married, playing your first Test, they're pretty special. From an individual point of view that's got to be one of the best days I've ever had."
Strauss wasn't feeling as comfortable with his new place in cricket history. "It's a great achievement for him and something that will live long in many people's memory, but probably not mine," he said. "It was a very full ball and I'm not quite sure how I missed it. I probably didn't hit it as straight as I could have done."
Warne's fingers were affected by the cold but he became more comfortable as they warmed after tea and some misplaced slogs from the tail-enders and the wickets of Strauss, Kevin Pietersen and Chris Read pushed him to 704 by stumps. The 5 for 39 was only the third time Warne had collected five wickets on his home ground - the first was in his opening game at the ground in 1992-93 - and it was a special occasion from the moment Ricky Ponting let him lead out the team.
His day began at 6am when he woke to host a breakfast for the Shane Warne Foundation and the guest list also included the early risers Glenn McGrath and Kevin Pietersen. Like everything else Warne did today, the function was a success.
As Australia knocked 48 runs off England's advantage of 159 Warne was struggling to believe his first-day impact on a seaming surface. "Today was something to get pretty excited about," he said. "We knocked them over for 150, I got five-for and took my 700th wicket, it's pretty hard to keep those emotions in. I just enjoyed it. To take five-for on a seaming wicket on the first day as a legspinner makes you feel pretty good."
Despite reaching the untouched milestone, Warne expects the record will be lost quickly to Muttiah Muralitharan, who has 674 victims. Warne again predicted Muralitharan would reach 1000, but he wasn't sure how long his own mark would remain out of reach to the next generations of bowlers.
"Fifteen to 20 years ago you would have thought 'who would get to 400 or 500?'" he said. "Someone might keep coming up getting 800, 900, 1000 and I might be way down the order. Who knows?"
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