Warne: Pressure is on Australia
Shane Warne is bracing himself for his final Test on English soil admitting the pressure is on Australia like never before prior to the deciding Test at the Oval.
Since writing his name in Ashes folklore by dismissing Mike Gatting with the “wonder-ball” at Old Trafford in 1993, Warne has claimed 117 wickets in his 21 Ashes Tests in this country.
During that period of domination, Warne has experienced only five defeats in this country - two of which were this summer - and become the key figure in Australia’s eight successive Ashes series victories.
But as he approaches his 36th birthday next Tuesday, Warne is all too aware his final Test in England could also be the most important of his career as Australia attempt to claim the win which would level the series and retain the Ashes.
“I thought the pressure was on England in the last Test match because they knew all we had to do was win one of the last two and if we won that last Test it was all over - the pressure is on us this time as far as I’m concerned.
“We have to play well for five days and if we don’t play well we’ll lose the Ashes for the first time in 20 years, hopefully that will make us respond and the guys will soak it up and see it as a challenge rather rather than fear it.
“There is a calmness in the group and the guys are looking forward to it. The guys want to show that we’re still a very good side and they are looking to play some pretty good cricket over the next five days.
“We see this is a challenge and an exciting time. This is a good test of our character and I think everybody’s up for it - I hope it doesn’t rain for three or four days because I think that will spoil what’s been a fascinating and probably one of the best series ever as an advertisement for the game.”
Warne, unlike perhaps some of his team-mates, cannot be accused of shirking a challenge this summer and has battled through a tough time in his personal life to claim 28 wickets in the series.
Despite the break-up of his marriage to wife Simone and being estranged from his kids Summer, Brooke and Jackson for most of the summer, Warne stands only seven wickets short of his best-ever tally in an Ashes series of 34 recorded in 1993.
He also needs only eight more victims to have taken more English Test wickets than any other bowler in history, overhauling Denis Lillee’s tally of 167 and Curtly Ambrose’s 164, and Warne admitted: “In my career I’ve had to face a lot of challenges.
“For me personally what I’ve had to go through off the field with my private life has probably been the toughest period of my life and then to play the way I have done in this series has made me very proud.
“It’s not been easy, it’s been pretty tough and I’ve got three weeks before I go home and see my kids, but it’s my last series here and I want to make it something special - I’ve been lucky enough to experience a lot in my life, but this is probably the biggest Test of all our careers.”
He added: “For me personally it’s probably been my best-ever series. With the bat and the ball my numbers have been pretty good, but everything that’s happened in the series doesn’t matter now - it’s all down to five days.
“It’s basically down to a one Test series now and if we win we retain the Ashes and if England win they regain them. These are the sort of situations I thrive on and I think I’ve proved that over the years.
“These are the situations when I think the really good players stand out. The best players in both sides will have good games and I’m really looking forward to it. 2-2 is probably a pretty good reflection of the series and it would be a nice way to go out on a high.”