|Player:||SK Warne, GD McGrath, JL Langer, A Flintoff, KP Pietersen, MS Panesar, PD Collingwood|
DateLine: 8th January 2007
Shane Warne says he won't be overcome with emotion as Australia press for a four-day victory in the fifth Test in Sydney to inflict an Ashes series whitewash on England for the first time in 86 years.
The champion leg-spinner is winding down his extraordinarily successful cricket career in the Sydney Test and all signs point to the Australians clinching victory after dominating the tourists on the third day Thursday. Test cricket's greatest wicket-taker has had a dream farewell Test match, spanking the England bowlers while top scoring with 71 off 65 balls and grabbing the psychologically important wicket of captain Andrew Flintoff nearing stumps.
The tourists are left praying for a miracle to avert another shattering defeat. The 37-year-old Australian great is set for a magnificent send-off from his adoring fans along with local hero Glenn McGrath and opening batsman Justin Langer, who are also bowing out of Test cricket in the same match. Asked if he would shed a tear when the match ends, Warne told reporters: "No. Not at all. I'll be happy. The stuff I've achieved in the Australian team, what we've achieved as a group of players through a period of time. We've beaten every country home and away. It's been a wonderful career for me. To take 700 wickets, score a few thousand runs, take a 100 catches and play 100-odd Test matches. I couldn't have asked for my career to go any better. I'd like to think that I've repaid everyone for what I've brought to cricket, I'd like to think I've made it entertaining. People have enjoyed watching the Australian team play and they've enjoyed watching me play. I'd like to think I've made it enjoyable, so I won't be sad tomorrow. I think I'll be pretty happy because my body is telling me it's time to go. I know that for sure." Warne produced the magic in an intoxicating Australian performance on the third day to seize control of the match. He had earlier blasted 71 off 65 balls, with nine fours and two sixes, and then weighed in with Flintoff's wicket to leave the field with 1-14 off three overs.
Flintoff was out stumped off Warne for seven after adjudication by the video umpire. The tight decision ended England's last realistic chance of a big match-saving partnership. At the close, England were 114 for five and facing likely defeat, with remaining batting hope Kevin Pietersen not out on 29 and nightwatchman Monty Panesar yet to score. "Freddie showed in the first innings that he's starting to find some form, and Flintoff and Pietersen together could easily have put on 150-200 runs onto the total," Warne said. "That was a pretty big moment in those last few overs and to get him like that was pretty handy and it wasn't a bad ball either." Warne while batting characteristically engaged in some banter with Paul Collingwood. "We spoke about a different array of things. I thought it was all in fun, we were having a bit of fun out there, a bit of jest," Warne said. "I was letting him know my thoughts and that was making me concentrate and making me more determined. I thought it was good fun and if that's the way he wanted to play then I was more than happy to play that game, that's suits me fine."
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