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Cricket world stunned at Warne~~s departure

Published: Thursday, December 21, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Sydney:The cricket world expressed shock at Shane Warne's announcement of retirement and praised the Australian spinner as one of the game's all-time greats.

Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland even evoked Don Bradman when searching for superlatives to heap on Warne, an unprecedented honour in a country where the batsman is revered as the greatest ever Australian cricketer.

"There are a generation of Australians who were privileged enough to see Bradman. We are the generation that will always say we were privileged to see Warne," Sutherland said.

Sutherland described Warne's 699 Test wickets as staggering, but said the bowler's contribution to the game transcended statistics.

"To personally change the course of so many games, to excite the public imagination about cricket the way he has, and to inspire a generation of Australian kids to take up the once neglected art of leg-spinning takes him beyond the stats and puts him in a league of his own," he said.

Wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, whose cries of "bowled Warnie" followed many of Warne's deliveries, said he would miss his teammate.

"What he's done for the game, the colour he's added, the character that he's brought to the game, he's going to be tough to replace," he said.

Cricketing greats were surprised at the 37-year-old's decision to retire at the end of the current Ashes series while still at the height of his prowess.

"I just got the inkling that he was even considering one more tilt at England in England (in 2009) and that would see him out, but it's just caught everyone by surprise," said former Australian captain Allan Border.

"He's in superb touch, he's bowling well physically," he said. "He's been a breath of fresh air for the game."

Former Australian bowler Geoff Lawson told FOX Sports Warne would have gone on to take 1,000 wickets if he had chosen to remain in the game.

"I'm absolutely gobsmacked by this -- he's just bowling so terrifically," he said.

"I thought he might still have another three, four years left in the game and in fact I've lost a lot of money because I backed him to take 1,000 Test wickets and it's not going to happen now."

Former Australian Test captain and cricket commentator Richie Benaud said Warne's departure would leave a huge gap in the game.

"People keep telling me there are plenty of leggies down the road, but they're not experienced enough and they haven't been given the opportunities, but I think there's going to be a big gap," he told Channel Nine.

More of Australia's victorious Test team are also expected to pull up stumps next year, with fast bowler Glenn McGrath tipped to announce his retirement soon, while batsmen Damien Martyn quit suddenly just before the third Ashes Test.

New Zealand cricket great and former world Test-wicket record holder Sir Richard Hadlee said the sport would be poorer for Warne's departure.

"A lot of batsmen in world cricket will be delighted to learn he's leaving the game, but I think the game will be poorer without him," the former seam-bowling kingpin told Radio Sport.

"He has been a matchwinner, flamboyant and just incredible to watch."

Damien Fleming, a former teammate of Warne's, said the bowler's place in history was assured.

"He is one of the greatest cricketers of all time and we will never see his like again," he said.

AFP

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