Shane Warne has seen plenty of highs in a record-breaking career, but that does not diminish the excitement he feels at captaining Hampshire at Lord's on Saturday when they face Durham in the Friends Provident Trophy final. Warne, 37, has revitalised the fortunes of the county since becoming the leader in 2004.
"I've never played in a domestic final, so walking out as captain will be a proud moment," Warne told the BBC. "I've captained my state Victoria a few times in Shield games, but never in a final because of international duty."
Warne's often tricky relationship with the then Australia coach John Buchanan wasn't made any easier when he missed Hampshire's win in the final against Warwickshire two years ago. "I was doing the really important job of being 12th man for Australia at Essex," Warne said.
Hampshire have won all four of their appearances in various domestic finals since becoming the last of the then 17 first-class counties to make it to a Lord's showpiece back in 1988. This will be Durham's first final and they also have a gifted Australian in their ranks in the batsman Michael Di Venuto. However, they suffered a major blow when the England fast bowler Steve Harmison, who only recently returned from a hernia, was ruled out on Thursday.
Hampshire have been given permission to play the England Test pair of Kevin Pietersen and Chris Tremlett on Saturday. However, Shaun Udal was in no doubt about the identity of Hampshire's key player.
"Warney's our talisman and he always seems to rise to the big occasion," Udal said. "The thing that sets him apart from other overseas players is his passion and commitment for Hampshire."
But whatever happens at the weekend, Warne has grander ambitions for a Hampshire side that last won the County Championship in 1973. "Winning the Championship would be the highlight of my career with Hampshire," Warne said. "We've been second and third in the last two seasons, and I think it's only a matter of time."