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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
Warne plaudits well deserved
Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Australian Test batsman in Cairns

One of the undoubted highlights of my Test career for Australia has been the opportunity to play in the same team as our leg-spinning magician Shane Warne.

Shane Warne
Warney is as good a player as I have ever seen

One of Australia's greatest ever batsmen, Arthur Morris, often says that all people ever want to hear about when he talks about his Test career is what it was like to play with Sir Donald Bradman.

He often jokes that while he would be quite happy to re-tell stories of his own career milestones, no-one really wants to hear about anything other than the greatest batsman of them all, The Don.

In 10, 20, 30 years from now, it won't surprise me if my time isn't spent talking about Shane Warne, who became in Cairns the joint world record holder with 527 Test wickets.

In many ways it was a shame he couldn't go one better than his spinning rival Muttiah Muralitharan, but then it is also adds to the spice of their continued race for bowling supremacy.

In what turned out to be a fantastic Test match, bad light may have robbed us of the opportunity to win our fifth consecutive Test against Sri Lanka.

As the light faded so did our chance to use the new ball at the Sri Lankan tail.

Despite that, the drama in the last few overs was wonderful to be a part of.

With the sun setting over the rainforest hills, Shane was bowling to the adoring chants of the Cairns public, hungry to witness a new world record.

Bridgette and Keith Warne
Shane's parents were there to witness his record attempt

Dark clouds and a magical sky acted as the backdrop as our entire team crowded close to the bats of Nuwan Zoysa and Chaminda Vaas.

After bowling 35 straight overs, our champion hadn't lost any of his energy.

Standing at second slip to Shane Warne is one of the wonders of playing the game. From there you have one of the best seats in the house for witnessing cricket poetry from the master of leg-spin bowling.

Even though we weren't able to take the final two Sri Lankan wickets, the experience of being in the same arena with Warney at his best will be enough to conjure up great stories in later years for my grandkids or anyone else who wants to hear tales of this era of Australian cricket.

Regardless of what happens in the future, it is fitting to see Shane experiencing the accolades of this world record.

Sure Murali may play for longer and take more wickets down the track but I think Warney is sitting on his rightful throne today as he is as good a player as I have ever seen.

Hot on the heels of all-time great players is my opening partner Matthew Hayden who, with two centuries in this match, has now notched up 20 Test hundreds.

He is an amazing player and I am privileged to stand at the other end. His power, strength and composure at the crease must be heart breaking for all opposition bowlers.

Hayden and Langer
Batting with a giant like Matthew Hayden is a privelege

One of the reasons we heard that Murali might not have played these last two Tests was that he was disappointed that his team were only playing Test matches in outback Australia.

In the next few days he might find out from his team-mates that he actually missed out on a sensational Test series experience.

The ground and facilites in Cairns were quite simply world-class. You would go a long way to find better anywhere in the world.

Winter Test cricket in Australia has certainly taken huge steps forward over the last few weeks. Whether it becomes a regular event remains to be seen.

One thing is for sure - it won't be from a lack of interest or facilities in the 'top end' to ensure its success in the future.

From Cairns,
JL



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