MELBOURNE Former test spinner Shane Warne has quit Australia's Big Bash League after two seasons with the Melbourne Stars in a blow for the struggling Twenty20 tournament.
"I think the time is right for me to hang up my Big Bash boots - juggling business, family and commentary commitments across two continents is not easy," Warne, who retired from international cricket in 2007, said on the Stars' website (www.melbournestars.com.au) on Monday.
"I've always loved the game but now it's time to observe."
The 43-year-old legspinner, the second highest test wicket-taker of all-time with 708 scalps behind Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan (800), would retain a role with the Melbourne franchise to be worked out in coming months, Stars CEO Clint Cooper said in a statement.
The Stars finished third in the competition's second season, which struggled to match the crowds of its heavily marketed launch in 2011-12 and shelved a plan to expand the league from its current eight teams.
Warne, whose bowling feats in the Big Bash League were put in the shade by his marketing value, enjoyed a colourful stint in the fledgling tournament, which borrowed heavily from the lucrative Indian Premier League's (IPL) flamboyant model.
Warne underlined his showman status in the first season by calling live on television exactly how he would dismiss Brendon McCullum seconds before bowling the New Zealand batsman with a flipper during the Stars' match against Brisbane Heat.
Wired up to a microphone for another match the following season, Warne shouted an obscenity at Marlon Samuels live on television, hurled the ball at the West Indies batsman, striking him, and manhandled the Jamaican in an ugly altercation to earn a fine and a one-game ban.
It was not clear whether Warne, who enjoyed a successful IPL career with the Rajasthan Royals, would entertain invitations to play Twenty20 cricket elsewhere.
Upon returning for a second Big Bash season last year, Warne said whenever he thought he was finished with the game, another competition would come along to stoke his interest.
"I have to never say never, because in 2007 I said I'd never play cricket again," he said last October. "I think I've retired nine times."
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by John O'Brien)
Our top photos from the past week.