No one could sense an exit line quite like Shane Warne. Like most great showmen and entertainers, he knew when to go, with the crowds still wanting more. Whether it was the Test and one-day arenas or the Indian Premier League (IPL), his final playground, he had a gift for scripting the headline moment, the enduring image that would not fade.
The Rajasthan Royals were already out of contention for a semi-final berth by the time they played the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium. But with Warne announcing that it would be his last act on a cricket field, a relatively inconsequential game suddenly became the cynosure of global eyes.
It also gave us a last glimpse of what was one of cricket's most engrossing rivalries, Warne against Tendulkar. This tussle lasted seven balls, off which Tendulkar took seven runs. There was no clear winner and after the match was done - the Royals turned in their best performance of the season with nothing at stake - there was a handshake and a "Go well".
Yet, it wouldn't be Warne to leave without at least one moment for us to remember. That came in his final over, the last of Mumbai's stop-start innings. Rohit Sharma, Warne's pick as the next Indian batsman to watch, had played beautifully for a half-century but was helpless as the master tossed the bait one final time.
It pitched just outside off-stump. Rohit was down the track and he heaved so hard that the bat flew out of his hands. It wouldn't have mattered anyway. The ball had turned so much it was in a different postcode, giving the keeper the simplest of stumpings.
As he accepted congratulations from his teammates, Warne paused to give the bemused Rohit a pat on the back. In the Tendulkar Stand near midwicket, there was a banner that said: "Bowlin', Shane", a throwback to all those years when Ian Healy and Adam Gilchrist had to say little more. Another homemade poster, held by a young man who probably wasn't even born when Warne made his Test debut in 1992, thanked him for "entertaining us".
The pause before the final delivery seemed eternal, with Warne surveying every corner of the field as though there was a Test match to win and just one ball to do it. The last ball that Sir Donald Bradman faced, from Eric Hollies, bowled him. The perfect ending can elude even the greatest.
In his last spell in Test cricket, Warne enticed Andrew Flintoff to leave the crease and had him stumped with another ripping leg break. But his very last ball, to Steve Harmison, was a full toss that was put away for four.
The IPL also saw a full toss slip out of possibly clammy hands. James Franklin thumped it down, but it was fielded. Warne collected the throw, gave the fielder a thumbs up, collected his cap and then started the long walk back. No tears, no drama, just the realisation that more than six years after his one-day international exit and four years after the Test swan song, there were no fields left to conquer.
We will remember him as the ultimate big-match player of his age. Even as Australia disintegrated in the famous Ashes series of 2005, he did his utmost to keep them afloat, with 40 wickets and pugnacious batting.
Unlike many of his Australian contemporaries, he won the 50-over World Cup just once (1999). But even there, in a team of colossal figures, he was a man apart. The dismissals of Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs in the immortal Edgbaston semi-final - he finished with four for 29 - would feature in any video tutorial of the leg-spin art. Days later, he finished off Pakistan's trophy dreams with four for 33.
His water-into-wine captaincy of the first IPL season made many wonder just what Australia might have missed, but for the man himself, there was no looking back. "If I didn't get the opportunities then so be it," he told Harsha Bhogle in an interview. "I made poor calls and some poor choices. Anything could have happened in that stage of my life. I understand that. I don't regret it one bit."
India, a country he grew to love after first touring with cans of Heinz baked beans, also offered him his sternest test - he took 34 wickets at 43.11 from his nine matches. In Matthew Hayden's eyes, it was just a case of trying too hard.
"I thought Warnie's problem in India was simply that he tried to spin the ball too much," he wrote in Standing My Ground. "Big turn never worried the Indians. They've played it almost from the cradle. Warnie would have been much better bowling a straighter line, keeping the pressure on with sliders and zooters and other more subtle tricks.
"Warnie loved his big-turning leg break, and it was one of the best natural deliveries the game has seen. There was no question Warnie had the ability to test the Indians. He just had the wrong strategy."
As a captain, he seldom did. Ian Chappell, who knows a thing or two about leadership, wrote: "He empowered players by putting them in a position to have success. This then boosted them not only in the eyes of their teammates but also in their own estimation."
When it all came together, as in his final game, it was a sight to behold.