Australia~~s players shelve retirement plans

Published: Thursday, August 31, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Coolum: Australia's senior cricketers are playing down suggestions they might retire en masse if they win back the Ashes.

Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden are all in their mid-30s and rapidly approaching normal retirement age.

They have publicly hinted they wanted to go out in a blaze of glory rather than face the axe, which is wielded swiftly and ruthlessly by Australia's selectors, but have since shelved plans to quit after the home series against England.

Warne said he could play on for another five years. The leg-spinner is the greatest wicket-taker in Test history and is bowling as well as ever despite going through the personal trauma of divorce.

''I turn 37 in a couple of weeks, so I'm going to get asked (about retirement) all the time,'' he told reporters at a team training camp in Queensland.

''I'll be one of the guys who goes through that transition and people will have to get used to me not being around.

''When that time comes, I think everybody will know but at the moment I love playing cricket.'' McGrath has been plagued by injuries in the past few seasons and has not played for Australia since January when his wife was diagnosed with cancer.

The 36-year-old has taken more wickets than any other fast bowler in test history but has lost none of his boyish enthusiasm and believes he could even play a part in the 2009 Ashes in England.

''I'm probably as, if not more, excited for this season than ever before,'' he said.

''I've had a good break and I've been training hard and working on a few things that I wanted to touch up on

'' YOUNG FAMILY Gilchrist declared last year that he might hang up his gloves after next year's World Cup to spend more time with his young family but he is also having second thoughts.

The demands of batting and keeping wickets have clearly taken a toll on the 34-year-old, but he has been allowed to skip several matches and next month's One-day series in Malaysia to keep himself fresh.

''I've thought about it a lot but I'm feeling extremely refreshed now,'' he said.

''The way I feel at the moment, I'm really keen to get through this summer and be keen to go on after this summer.

''But I realise things can change. I don't want to make any bold statements about where I'm headed but the intention at the moment would be to keep playing.'' Langer, 35, and Hayden, 34, are Australia's most successful opening partnership but age is catching up with them and they are under pressure for their places from the much younger Phil Jaques.

Langer's future seemed to be in doubt when he was felled by a Makhaya Ntini bouncer in South Africa and forced to miss three matches but the left-hander went to England in the off-season to regain his confidence, scoring a career-best 342 for Somerset.

Langer said the trip to England had not only convinced him he had the physical ability to play on but the ribbing he suffered from his team mates about the last Ashes series reassured him he had the mental desire.

''Physically and mentally I feel really sharp. I just got 300, so of course I'm alright,'' he said.

''And every day I was over there, people were reminding me about the Ashes. The kindling was already on the fire then but now it's like an inferno.''

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