Shane Warne has announced his retirement from Test cricket having admitted he would have carried on playing until Australia regained the Ashes.
The 37-year-old leg-spinner ended 24 hours of speculation by confirming the worst-kept secret in cricket by confirming he would end his staggering Test career after the final Ashes Test in Sydney.
By then he should have added to a stunning tally of 699 wickets from 143 Tests and an amazing haul of 186 wickets from 34 Ashes contests and ensured his place as the greatest bowler in cricket history.
But despite his impressive list of statistics, an upbeat Warne claimed today at an MCG news conference that he would have continued his long career had England retained the Ashes during the current series.
"I probably would have retired in 2005 had we had won and there was a burning ambition in the team to win the Ashes back," he said. "I saw how much we all hurt after that series and it is my eighth series against England and I’ve only lost one.
"It was a mission of mine no matter how long it took to get that urn back, no matter how long it took. I think you can tell by the way we’ve played this series and the way I’ve gone out there and bowled that I’ve been pretty determined.
"It’s been pretty hard work at times and the body will enjoy not playing after Sydney for a while. The back has been pretty stiff but when the game has been on the line that’s when we’ve been able to deliver."
He explained his decision had been made after he talked to mentors like Ian Chappell and discussed his feelings with Australian captain Ricky Ponting in the immediate aftermath of the Third Test triumph in Perth earlier this week, which secured the Ashes for Australia.
Warne’s announcement follows the shock retirement of Damien Martyn, while Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer are tipped to make similar decisions at the end of the current series.
"I’m a happy man because it’s been on my chest for a while," he admitted. "Cricket is a statistics-based game but to me it’s not about statistics and money and those sort of things.
"If it was about that I would keep playing because I think I’m still bowling well enough, it’s about knowing the right time.
"I’d like to go out on top and I think I’m going out on my terms. I’d like to think I’ve earned that right to go out on my terms, but it’s a day of celebrating a wonderful ride."
Despite his many brushes with authority Warne insists he has no regrets about his illustrious career, which has established him as the greatest bowler of his generation and one which Wisden thought good enough to name as one of the players of the century.
"I don’t think I could have asked my career to go any better," he added. "In the journey of life you go through various ups and downs but I never dreamt my cricket career could go as well as it has.
"I’ve been very lucky in an era of Australian cricket that’s been very successful and I’ve had the opportunity to play with some great players.
"I’ve played with some unbelievable players, some once-in a generation players and together we’ve achieved some special things.
"The team environment with Australia has been the most enjoyable time of my life and I don’t think I could have given any more to cricket. I’ve given as much as I possibly could.
"I’ve given absolutely everything to the game. I’ll probably miss it because I’ve missed one-day cricket in the last few years but I know it is the right decision."