| Shane Warne practises at the Sydney Cricket Ground Wednesday. (Reuters)
Sydney: Shane Warne has announced he will quit playing one-day cricket immediately after the World Cup in a bid to prolong his Test career.
The Australian leg-spinner told a news conference in Sydney on Wednesday that he had decided to retire from the shortened version of the game to save himself for cricket’s more traditional contests.
“I’m going to retire from one-day International cricket when the World Cup finishes,” he said. “The World Cup is once every four years and I thought it was a great opportunity for me to end my one-day career internationally.”
Warne has been troubled by shoulder problems in recent years and said the wear and tear of the one-day game was finally taking its toll on his body.
“I love playing cricket for Australia but the number one priority for me is to play Test cricket for as long as I can,” he said. “I’m only 33 and think I’ve still got a lot of cricket left for Australia.”
Warne said he had been considering retirement for a while but finally made up his mind after dislocating his shoulder in a limited-overs match against England last month.
“That sort of brought my thinking home about how hard it is on your body in one-day cricket,” he said. “Everyone I’ve spoken too thinks it’s a pretty positive and smart decision.”
Warne, Man of the Match in Australia’s victory over Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup final, is already Australia’s greatest wicket-taker in both Tests (491) and one-dayers (288) and is rapidly closing in on Courtney Walsh’s world record of 519 Test wickets.
But his brilliant career has been stalled in recent years by a series of injuries that have threatened his long-term plans.
Warne almost missed the World Cup after dislocating his shoulder in December but was cleared after surgery found the damage was not as bad as initially feared.
He missed Australia’s last six one-day matches as well as the final Ashes Test but is expected to make his comeback in the first one-day series final against England on Thursday.
Australia chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said: “The selectors agree that removing those pressures should prolong his effectiveness as a Test bowler.”
Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) chief executive Tim May said Warne’s retirement highlighted the need to address the issue of scheduling.
“Shane’s early retirement from one-day International cricket raises a concern regarding the possible early retirement of the game’s leading players due to the non-stop nature of the international cricketing schedule,” May said in a statement.
Australia’s one-day captain Ricky Ponting said: “I suppose I would have to say that I’m a little bit disappointed because losing one of the all-time greats out of your side is obviously going to be a very hard spot to fill.”
Warne said he did not wish to be dumped by national selectors from the one-day side as 1999 World Cup winners Steve and Mark Waugh, both aged 37, had been last year.
“A year or so down the track I don’t particularly want to get the tap on the shoulder,” Warne said. “I’m going out my way, the way I wanted to go out and while I’m still at the top of my game.”
Warne had been in good form before his shoulder injury, taking 14 wickets at 24.79 in the first three Tests of the Ashes series.
Two weeks before his 33rd birthday in September last year, Warne told The Sunday Age newspaper in Melbourne he wanted to make a fourth Ashes tour of England in 2005 and may give up one-day cricket to pursue his goal.
The Australian bowled what is regarded as the “ball of the century” in Manchester in 1993 with his first Ashes delivery, clipping Mike Gatting’s off bail after pitching outside leg stump.
In 2001 he took 31 wickets in Australia’s seventh successive series win over England.
Plagued by negative headlines throughout his career, Warne says he is trying to simply concentrate on cricket and his critics can please themselves.