Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Warne wicket hunt inspires Australia ahead of Perth Test

AP , PERTH, AUSTRALIA

The ASHES 2006/2007Shane Warne's hunt for his 700th Test wicket has energized the Australian cricket team ahead of the third Ashes cricket Test against England, wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist said.

Warne has 694 wickets from 142 Tests entering the Perth match and stands poised to become the first player in Test cricket to reach 700 wickets. Gilchrist said Warne's attitude in the lead up to the Test had infected the Australian players as they approached a match in which they could clinch the Ashes series.

"He is quite vibrant and vocal," Gilchrist said. "He's energizing the group. Even this morning at training everyone was asking what's he on, though I probably shouldn't say that."

"He has been brilliant. It's great and it is really encouraging ... to see a guy who has played 140 Tests be so keen to get into the action," Gilchrist added. "That has been his way for the whole series but it really shone through on the last day at Adelaide."

Warne's hunt for six wickets in the Perth Test may be aided by the pitch at the WACA ground which has changed in recent years from a haven for fast bowlers to become slower and more spinner-friendly.

The Australian leg-spinner has taken 32 wickets in 11 Tests at Perth at an average of 37.32 but he claimed six wickets in Australia's last Test on the ground, against South Africa last year.

Gilchrist said he relished the possibility of keeping to Warne as he chased the 700-wicket milestone.

"He has given me the most pleasure as a player to play with, to be able to keep wicket to him" he said. "It's so exciting. He is one of the five cricketers of all time, by Wisden, and that in itself is a big statement."

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