Australia legend Shane Warne plays last cricket match

Shane Warne waves to the crowd as he leaves the field
The world of cricket has waved goodbye to Warne as a player

Legendary Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne played his last professional cricket match on Friday - taking a wicket in his final over.

The 41-year-old, who captained and coached the Rajasthan Royals, led them to a 10-wicket win over Mumbai in their final Indian Premier League game.

"I'd just like to thank everyone who supported me," said Warne.

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.

His IPL career 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.

Warne apologised for "any distress" his actions may have caused and appeared at a hearing in Mumbai on Tuesday.

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, before being selected to face India in his first Test 11 months later.

Credited with reviving the dormant art of leg-spin bowling, Warne's phenomenal success led him to be named as as one of the five cricketers of the 20th century by leading almanack Wisden in 2000, alongside four cricketing knights - Sir Jack Hobbs, Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Vivian Richards, legends to a man.

His career was not without controversy - serving a one-year suspension after testing positive for a banned diuretic substance just before the 2003 World Cup, claiming he had taken a fluid tablet to aid his recovery from a shoulder injury.

But he bounced back spectacularly, taking 40 wickets in the titanic 2005 Ashes series in England - before bowing out of the international scene at the very top, after helping Australia to a 5-0 whitewash in the next Ashes series in 2006/07.

Warne also captained Hampshire with distinction during this time, 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, the last of his five seasons at Hampshire.

County chairman Rod Bransgrove recently 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."

With Australia struggling against England during the 2010/11 Ashes campaign, Aussie fans and cricket writers unsuccessfully campaigned for Warne to return to the Test fold, despite his not having played first-class cricket for three years.

But he was content to wind down his career in the IPL, leading Rajasthan to the inaugural title in 2008. This season, he has taken 13 wickets in 13 matches as the Royals won six of their 14 games but failed to finish in the top four and qualify for the semi-finals.

He even holds one Test batting record - having scored the most Test runs (3,154) without making a century, although he hit two County Championship hundreds for Hampshire in 2005.

Warne, who has also worked as a television commentator since his international retirement, has not ruled out the possibility of taking up a mentoring or coaching role next season.

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