Verbals focus Warne's mind
Shane Warne claimed sledging from the England fielders inspired him to the half-century which put Australia in control of the fifth Test and within touching distance of an Ashes whitewash.
Warne, so often England’s tormentor with the ball, weighed in with a savage 71 with the bat as Australia made 393 in reply to England’s 291, a first-innings lead of 102.
He also claimed the wicket of England captain Andrew Flintoff, stumped by Adam Gilchrist in the penultimate over of the day, as the tourists were reduced to 114 for five by the close, a lead of just 12 runs.
Paul Collingwood led the England sledging when umpire Aleem Dar failed to give Warne out caught behind off Monty Panesar early in his innings but it backfired as a fired-up Warne let loose.
“I got out there thinking, ‘let’s see what happens’, and a few of them decided to have a bit of a say,” claimed Warne, who is retiring from international cricket after this match.
“That’s fair enough - no drama. It just made me concentrate a bit more. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t.”
Warne admitted he had begun to think about making a fairytale century in his final Test match before being stumped by Chris Read off Panesar.
“It would obviously have been a dream if I’d have got to a hundred,” he said. “The script-writer has been on fire for most of this summer, but I didn’t really think I could get a hundred at that stage.
“I was pretty pumped up when I first went out there. I’m normally a terrible starter so I thought I’d try a few Red Bulls and I had a couple of them and I was buzzing when I went out there.
“We were aiming for a 50 or 60 run lead and to get 100 runs ahead was a bonus and I actually started to think about batting and started to concentrate - I had a ball and to hit a few in the middle and few over the fence was good fun.”
Warne expects Australia to complete victory on the fourth day, with Kevin Pietersen the only remaining recognised batsmen.
“I would be pretty disappointed if we can’t win this game tomorrow,” Warne said. “Once they are four or five down we always feel we can knock over their tail.”
Warne struggled to cope with back trouble during the day’s play and believes he has made the right decision to call time on his career at the highest level.
“I thought R Mortis [rigor mortis] was coming into bowl. I was stiff in the back, I couldn’t move, so I was happy to get one [wicket] in the end.”
Asked how he thought he would feel when the curtain comes down on his glorious career, the 37-year-old added: “I suppose I will be a little bit sad but I am excited for what the future holds.
“I can spend more time with my children and my family and I can celebrate my career. The game’s been kind to me and hopefully I have entertained and put a smile on a few people’s faces.
“I’ll be more happy than sad, that’s for sure, because the body is telling me it is time to go.”
James Anderson admitted England’s lower order need to follow the example of Australia’s if they are to have any chance of avoiding a 5-0 series defeat.
“Everyone works at their batting - you have to now," he said. "Their tail wagged a bit and obviously ours needs to as well.
"Hopefully, Monty can stick around a bit and the rest of the tail have got to stick around too.”
Anderson, who was recalled due to Matthew Hoggard’s side strain, was pleased with his efforts with the ball.
The Lancashire seamer got the day off to a good start for England when he removed Mike Hussey in the second over, and finished with admirable figures of 3-98.
He said: “Obviously, with not playing the last two games, I’ve just been bowling in the nets and I thought it was coming out all right.
“I was a bit worried how it would come out today but I thought I did well.
“I thought I bowled well at him [Hussey] last night. I had the same plan this morning and it paid off.”