London, Mar 28 : Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne has decided to retire from all first class cricket and will not return to play for Hampshire this season, to spend quality time with his kids, focus on his growing business activities and spare time to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
He played for Hampshire for eight years, and now captains the IPL's Jaipur franchise "Rajasthan Royals".
"Unfortunately I am retiring from all first-class cricket but will participate in the IPL with the Jaipur franchise as captain and coach. This was not an easy decision to make but due to some exciting business opportunities and wanting to spend more time with my children, I had to make this call," The Times quoted Warne as saying while announcing his retirement.
"My eight years involved with Hampshire have been a wonderful experience. Memories that will last with me forever and likewise the friendships that have been formed at the club. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rod Bransgrove, Paul Terry and Tim Tremlett for their ongoing support and the opportunity to captain the club, and I wish them all the best for the coming season," Warne said.
Hampshire chairman Rod Bransgrove showered praises on the Australian bowler, saying his contribution to the side was immense and would be missed but not forgotten. "I am sure that all our supporters will join us in, firstly, thanking Shane for his dedication and commitment and, secondly, wishing him and his family the best of wishes for the next phase of his life. Warnie will be sorely missed, never forgotten."
He added: "The most effective and entertaining bowler of all time, Shane Warne was also a brilliant leader and strategist. As our captain, his influence was instrumental in the development of Hampshire into one of the country's top sides and he enriched the game wherever he played."
Paul Terry, the Hampshire team manager, said he was disappointed but not surprised by Warne's decision. "He has been fantastic for the club with his incredible enthusiasm, drive and skill as captain," Terry said, and added: "He will be missed considerably on the field as there has never been anyone better but most importantly he will leave behind a host of friends that he has made through his kindness, generosity and loyalty. He will be missed, but certainly never forgotten, and I personally thank him for the experience and wish him fantastic success in all his future endeavours."
Warne finished his Test career at the end of last year's Ashes series in Australia with a then world record 708 wickets at an average of just over 25 apiece from 145 matches. His record was later surpassed by Sri Lanka's extraordinary off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.