Catch nearly ended career, but brotherly pep talk pulled it back

Before the home Ashes series in 2010, I was a bit worried I had finished off my brother Mike's Test career.

Victoria played Western Australia in the last Sheffield Shield game before the Ashes, and in the first innings, Mike got a nick off Andrew McDonald, and I caught it. We didn't celebrate because we thought that was a nail in the coffin for him.

I drove out of the car park at the MCG that night, and he was walking home to the hotel. I said, ''Jump in, I'll drive you.'' But he wanted to be by himself. I thought, ''This is not good, he's gone.'' I called him on the way home, and we just talked about family but he was pretty down. I said to him, ''What are you doing with your batting? You're a bloody good player, why don't you just believe in yourself? You don't even look like you're hitting the ball. Go out in the second innings and just smash us everywhere, will you?'' Sure enough, he got a hundred off about 60 balls and, sadly, Victoria lost the game because of it.

That story says a lot about Mike, and about the stubborn streak in both of us. Everybody wanted his head. Andrew Hilditch was chairman of selectors, and he and Greg Chappell wanted him out, wanted some new blood in the team. Mike claims he doesn't read the newspapers but I know for a fact he does, and I reckon it really got to him. He thought, ''Right, these buggers want me out, what I am I going to do about it?'' He showed everyone he could still play at the highest level, and now he's decided to retire on top of his game.

I didn't see it coming. He always told me he wanted to play forever. So when he rang on Saturday and said he was going to announce his retirement, I couldn't understand why. I said, ''Why are you doing this? You've still got so much cricket in you, and we need you for the Ashes. Just have the next series off and go to England.'' He said, ''No, I'm done.'' He was quite content.

It's good he has gone out on top. You could put him in the same category as Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer - probably not in Ricky Ponting's league but right up there. Mike's determination enabled him to build such a successful career, even before he made the Test team at the age of 30. A couple of years before, he was dropped from the WA team but he reignited the flame by making a lot of runs in county cricket with Durham, then came back and killed them in Shield cricket and was back in favour. He just found a way, and that's what we did as kids. If our parents told us we weren't allowed to do something, we'd find a way to do it, whether it was getting down to the beach at Mullaloo for a swim or playing classic catches. We're that stubborn.

Our backyard was a fiercely competitive place but we've only ever had one altercation on a cricket field. It was the Shield match in which Mike saved his Test career with a second-innings century. Matt Wade and myself were batting. Wade played and missed and was given out, caught behind, and they gave him a huge send-off. I stuck up for Matt and told most of the WA boys they were a bunch of shit blokes. I pointed to Mike and said, ''That includes you!'' That was the last thing we said to each other on a cricket field.

Out in the middle, Mike is intense but away from the game, he is relaxed, and we're good mates. We don't talk much about cricket but seeing him achieve all his goals has motivated me.

When he told me about his retirement he said maybe I could replace him in the Test team. I don't want to get my hopes up - at the moment I think I've got a 1 per cent chance - but I'm not giving up hope.

This story Catch nearly ended career, but brotherly pep talk pulled it back first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.