Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 3rd day December 28, 2006

'I'm not sad, I'm leaving on top'

Shane Warne: "I couldn't ask for this to go much better" © Getty Images

Shane Warne feels like he's had "50 Vodka and Red Bulls" whenever he's walked on to the field during the series, but it won't stop him from waving goodbye at the next Test at Sydney. The first of Warne's two tribute laps ended with him being chaired briefly by Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds before he stepped down to walk off with his fellow retiree Glenn McGrath.

Warne showed his full repertoire to his home crowd for the last time in a Man-of-the-Match performance that was boosted by his unbeaten 40 in the first session. Two wickets as England fell to an innings loss pushed his match tally to seven and the team is now in sight of a 5-0 result.

The first time Warne came to the ground was when Allan Border and Jeff Thomson failed by four runs to beat England in 1982-83. Money was tight in the Warne family back then, so they caught the train and entry was free. In the future those who have been lucky enough to be at the MCG at any time during Warne's career will remember his performances as fondly as Border and Thomson's brave steps.

"I'm jumping out of my skin at the moment, I feel like I've had 50 Vodka and Red Bulls every time I go out on the field," Warne said. "I suppose that's why I'm trying all my tricks. I feel very happy and young and fresh."

Warne said there were tears in the dressing room when Andrew Symonds earned his first Test century, but he felt only excitement at the victory when he stepped off his "backyard". "I'm not sad," he said. "I'm leaving when I'm on top and feel I'm bowling as good as at any stage during my career.

"I couldn't ask for this to go much better. I got my 700th wicket, runs down the order, some catches."

The performance of Warne left Ponting light-heartedly reconsidering his decision not to challenge him when he originally brought up the exit plan. "I didn't even think about talking Warney out of retirement," he said, "but I might have to think about it after today."

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo