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Peter English at Sydney
January 4, 2007
Click here for Warne's wagon-wheel.
Only when the game is finished and he's sitting with his team-mates will he get reflective. "I might be a bit sad in the dressing room over a beer," he said. "I don't think I'll be crying or anything. My body is telling me it's time to go, my body is telling me that for sure."
There are only five England batsmen left for Warne to target and with the visitors owning a lead of 12 his final bow is imminent. He sits on 708 wickets and the fast bowlers have been so impressive in this game there will be few opportunities for Warne to add to his tally.
Warne collected Andrew Flintoff two overs before stumps when he was stumped by a fine piece of work from Adam Gilchrist, who removed the bails milliseconds before Flintoff's back foot pushed down over the crease. "It was a pretty big moment so to get him was handy," Warne said. "It was a pretty good ball too."
Despite his lack of bowling opportunities, Warne's supporters at the SCG had a long time to wave at him when he made a bright and crucial 71, which included two sixes and nine fours from 65 balls. He started with a four and a six from his first two deliveries from Monty Panesar, survived a caught behind appeal later in the over and quickly began a sledging session with Paul Collingwood.
Warne was heard on radio to tell Collingwood, who was fielding at first slip to Panesar, to give back the MBE he earned for being part of the 2005 Ashes success. When asked whether he thought Collingwood would take the advice Warne smiled. "I probably told him enough times he might think about it," he said. "It's up to him."
The advice he received from slip fired his concentration - he had told Collingwood the barbs inspired him as early as the second Test in Adelaide - and he was also fuelled by a couple of Red Bulls to avoid a sleepy start. "I was pretty pumped up," he said. "It's my last game, I didn't have much to lose. Every run was crucial and I actually started to think about batting and tried to concentrate."
He picked up his 12th Test half-century and when Glenn McGrath arrived he gave up hope of reaching his first hundred. It is the only thing missing from a wonderful career.
"I couldn't have asked for it to go better," he said. "I'd like to think I've repaid everyone for what I've bought to cricket. I'd like to think I've made it entertaining, I'd like to think I made it pretty cool. People have enjoyed watching the team play and me play. I'd like to think it's been enjoyable." It has.
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