London, Mar 28 (UNI) Australian legend Shane Warne has announced that he abandoned his county commitments because of ''exciting business opportunities'' in the cash rich Indian Premier League (IPL).
Warne, who was expected to captain Hampshire in the second part of the season, announced last night that he would not be returning to the club and confirmed his retirement from the first-class game.
''I am retiring from all first-class cricket but will participate in the IPL. Due to some exciting business opportunities and wanting to spend more time with my children, I had to make this call,'' Warne told Hampshire web site.
The 38-year-old leg-spinner has taken on a major role at the Rajasthan Royals, the IPL franchise owned by the London-based businessman Manoj Badale. He will captain and coach the team, while also acting as an ''ambassador'' for the IPL concept.
A late convert to 20-over cricket, Warne always made a point of skipping the English Twenty20 Cup. But he has committed himself to the IPL programme, which runs from April 18 to June 1.
Hampshire chairman Rod Bransgrove emphasised that the split was amicable.
''It's not just about the IPL,'' he told the BBC.
''I think the cumulative effect of his business commitments, poker tournaments, TV appearances and so on meant that another two months away from home would have been more than he could reasonably bear. We also had to think about how much we could squeeze our season to accommodate one player, however great he is,'' he added.
Five New Zealand players also announced yesterday that they will be missing their team's first two warm-up games in England in order to play in the IPL.
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