Legendary Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne is preparing to play his last professional cricket match on Friday.The 41-year-old, who captains and coaches the Rajasthan Royals, will lead them against Mumbai in their final game of the Indian Premier League season.
He recently wrote on Twitter: "I'll miss the IPL, it's been fun. I've had a great time - it's time to say goodbye."
Warne took 708 wickets in 145 Tests for Australia before retiring from international cricket in 2007.
At the time, the figure was a world record, although it was broken by Muttiah Muralitharan less than a year later, and the Sri Lanka spinner eventually finished with 800.
Warne also captured 293 wickets in 184 one-day internationals for his country, and hung up his boots from the first-class game in 2008 after a spell captaining English county side Hampshire.
Warne apologised for "any distress" his actions may have caused and appeared at a hearing in Mumbai on Tuesday.
His IPL career has ended on a slightly sour note after his £31,000 fine for his part in a row with Sanjay Dixit, secretary of Rajasthan Cricket Association, over the choice of wicket for a home game.
As his last professional match approached, he remained in typically upbeat spirits, and was unrepentant concerning his criticism of the playing surface chosen for Rajasthan's last two home matches against Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore - both of which the Royals lost.
"Not saddened about what happened at all," Warne said on Thursday. "I got fined for telling the truth. The incident was silly, petty and a bit immature. I won't let this spoil my IPL and the experience I've had."
The Victoria-born superstar made his first-class debut in February 1991 for his home state in Australia, and this season has taken 11 wickets in nine matches with the Royals in fourth place in the table after five wins from 10 matches.
With Australia struggling against England during the 2010/11 Ashes campaign, Aussie fans and cricket writers campaigned for him to return to the Test fold, despite not having played first-class cricket for three years - but he was content to wind down his career in the IPL.
Warne also captained Hampshire with distinction, just missing out on the County Championship title in 2005 and finishing as losing finalists to Durham in the Friends Provident Trophy final at Lord's in 2007.
Their chairman Rod Bransgrove told BBC Radio Solent that he planned to organise a special event to pay tribute to a player he considers to be the best spinner of all time.
"It's very sad we're never going to see this maestro in action again," he said.
"He changed the culture of the club from a competing club into a winning club and made players believe in themselves."
Warne has not ruled out the possibility of taking up a mentoring or coaching role next season.
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