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Cricket historian on Warne's magic moment -

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Cricket historian on Warne's magic moment

Reporter: Scott Bevan

SCOTT BEVAN: Michael Vincent with that report. And if most Australians were enthralled at watching
history unfold on the pitch today, imagine what it was like for a cricket historian. Gideon Haigh
has been observing and writing about Shane Warne for more than a decade. I spoke with the historian
and author from outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground a little earlier.

SCOTT BEVAN: Gideon Haigh, you've been at the ground today, what's it been like to witness this
extraordinary moment in cricket history?

GIDEON HAIGH, CRICKET HISTORIAN: Well, it was a bit like being a kid and waking up on Christmas
morning and just waiting all day, and aching with the effort of patience until Warne actually got
the ball. He didn't get it until 2:51 because there was a bit of rain around and the pitch was
quite responsive to the fast bowlers but once he got the ball he didn't keep us waiting long, only
20 deliveries, and dismissed Andrew Strauss with a very good ball, a bit of a collector's piece of
leg spin bowling.

SCOTT BEVAN: You've seen quite a few of these milestones of Shane Warne's. How does the 700th
compare with all the others you've seen?

GIDEON HAIGH: Well, we're in completely uncharted territory here. The idea that a bowler could get
700 Test wickets is really quite remarkable. In 1976 I was here when Lance Gibbs broke Fred
Truman's wicket-taking record. He took his 307th Test wicket in a Melbourne Test match and then we
thought that was an enormous pile of wickets but 300, Warne left that behind years ago, and I think
he looks good enough as though he could go on for another five at this rate. As it is we know that
this is his last Melbourne Test match and he'll be signing off in Sydney. It was a great way for
him to go out in front of his home crowd.

SCOTT BEVAN: Gideon Haigh, put this into perspective for us historically. Just how significant is
this, the taking of 700 Test wickets?

GIDEON HAIGH: It's not just the taking of 700 Test wickets, Warne has actually taken 293
international one day wickets as well. These days Test cricket and international cricket in general
is played with such intensity and games are so profuse that merely to survive for the duration of
time that Warne has, let alone to enjoy his degree of success, is really quite remarkable. You have
to remain remarkably injury-free, you have to maintain consistently good form, you have to be able
to play in all conditions and the fact is that Warne's done it in Melbourne but he's done it
everywhere, he's done it in every country, against every opposition except perhaps against India in
India but even then Warne has become a representative, the star, the best known international
cricketer of his era, and he goes out at the very top of his game.

SCOTT BEVAN: Well, the Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is on 674 Test wickets. Given Warne
is about to retire, how long do you think it will be before this magical 700 Test wicket mark is
passed by someone else?

GIDEON HAIGH: Well, I think that Murali, great a bowler as he is, we can't get away statistically
from the fact that he's taken 137 Test wickets against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Only 17 of Warne's
are against that sort of second-rate opposition. Warne's done it day in, day out against the best
in the world and I think that it's not just parochialism and Australian grandiloquence that tempts
me to say that Warne is the best bowler of his age and perhaps of all time.

SCOTT BEVAN: It's not just the number of wickets he's taken, it's the way he goes about it. You
wrote recently in the 'Guardian' newspaper in England that Warne seems to own the pitch that,
quote, he arrives, settles, surveys; he attacks, consolidates, harries, heckles, and sometimes even
dawdles.

GIDEON HAIGH: There's something lovely about Warne. He reminds me of a story that's told about
Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan once at the end of an All Star game threw an all court throw from
one end to the other and it just missed the basket and he was asked afterwards whether he really
expected that ball to go in the basket and he said, "I expect them all to go in." Warne never
releases a ball without expecting a wicket and he's often a little bit surprised when he doesn't
get his own way.

SCOTT BEVAN: You've interviewed Shane Warne many times. How hard do you think it will be for him to
walk away from the game, from the roar of the crowd like what he experienced today?

GIDEON HAIGH: It was funny, when he took the wicket today he didn't flash us his most telegenic,
photogenic smile. It was kind of mellow, it was kind of wistful. He really was taking this in for
the last time. He realises that he's on his way out and he's savouring every moment. I think he's
reached the stage now where there are other priorities in his life and he's prepared to make the
kind of critical choices, integral to his future happiness. I think he'll miss it after a year, but
and certainly when he was out, when he was suspended for his doping offence a couple of years ago,
he did miss it. He missed it a great deal. He misses the companionship, he misses the competitive
outlet, he misses the ability to harness his capabilities against the best in the world but I think
that will fade. I think he's a mature enough man at his age now to go his own way.

SCOTT BEVAN: Well, Gideon Haigh, he has another four days in Melbourne and then the fifth Test to
go. It's been good talking with you, thanks for your time.

GIDEON HAIGH: No worries.