NEW DELHI, India, May 6 – Australian bowling legend Shane Warne Friday said he will quit all professional cricket after the current Indian Premier League season, bringing the curtain down on an extraordinary career.
"Yes this is my last year playing IPL," Warne, 41, posted on his Twitter account. "I will miss the IPL but it’s been fun for the last 4 seasons… I’ve had a great time — but it’s time to say goodbye to IPL.
"Thanks for kind words re my bowling – but it’s 100 percent my last four games of professional cricket unless we make finals."
The leg-spin great, widely considered one of the best bowlers ever, took 708 Test wickets before retiring from international cricket after winning the Ashes series in 2006-07.
In 2008 he withdrew from first-class cricket in Britain, where he had played for Hampshire, and only prolonged his on-field involvement with the game in the high-profile and lucrative IPL.
As skipper-cum-coach of the Rajasthan Royals franchise, he guided a squad of young and relatively unknown players to the title in the tournament’s inaugural season in 2008.
The franchise’s fortunes dipped in the next two editions but this year they appear well-placed to reach the knockout rounds, with five wins from 10 outings.
"A big thank you to everyone that has helped me — supported me through all the ups and downs — hope you have enjoyed watching me play," tweeted the flamboyant Warne.
He has played 52 games for Rajasthan so far, picking up 56 wickets at an average of 24.66.
"We have a spirit in the squad similar to IPL 1 — it would be great to leave on a high — I’m proud of the way we have developed young players," Warne wrote.
The Australian has been the face of the franchise and it is likely he will continue to be associated with them as a mentor or coach.
"Re next year, who knows what or if I will be involved in IPL re mentor/coaching — am focused on doing best for RR this year — see u at ground."
The Rajasthan Royals were quick to acknowledge Warne’s contribution in shaping the franchise and said they will continue to look to the player for guidance in future editions.
"Shane Warne has been an integral part of Rajasthan Royals for the last four years," Raghu Iyer, the chief marketing officer, said in a statement.
"He has been instrumental in nurturing young talent in the team and making Rajasthan Royals a formidable force in IPL.
"We are looking forward to him assuming a larger role in the team and continuing adding value to the team’s success."
Warne has been prominent in Indian newspapers ever since this edition began, be it for his leaner frame, glowing skin or latest girlfriend — British actress and model Elizabeth Hurley.
Hurley was spotted in the stands for a number of Rajasthan matches and was photographed kissing the divorced Australian star.