Fri, Aug 24, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Germans ready to extend a warm welcome to Warne

AFP, BERLIN

Australian spin legend Shane Warne would be a welcome guest of Germany's cricket team whether or not he decides to apply for a German passport, says the national side's coach.

Warne, 37, is investigating whether he qualifies for a passport through his German-born mother, Brigitte, so he can play English county cricket as a non-overseas player.

But Keith Thompson, the Scottish-born coach of Germany's cricket team, says his side would welcome him with open arms as a player, publicity stunt or just a visitor.

"I was surprised when I heard he had a German mother and was looking into getting a German passport, it's hilarious really," Thompson said.

Warne retired from international cricket in January after Australia's 5-0 Ashes win over England and under ICC rules a player can only play for any other country after a four year gap and following a strict criteria.

Having taken a record 708 wickets in 145 test matches, Warne would have to wait four years and spend some time living in Germany, if he were to qualify for the German team.

His manager James Erskine has said Warne will not renounce his Australian citizenship to obtain a German passport, but Thompson says the Germans will approach Warne to see if he would help them in any way.

Warne has been playing for Hampshire since 2000. English county sides are currently allowed to have two overseas players, but that will be reduced to one next year.

Players holding EU passports do not count towards the quota, but Thompson says it would be an incredible coup to have Test cricket's top wicket-taker in his side.

"I can see what he is doing to free up a place for an overseas player and not for some love of Germany," said Thompson, who has coached Germany since 2005. "I don't know if he would even come here, but we will try and get him over. It might be something amusing for him to do, to come over and see cricket in Germany."

"I have heard he is pretty generous with his time and it would be a massive boost for us even if he just came to have a look around. He might want to trace his ancestry over here, help us with some publicity or just come and have a beer," Thompson said. "Of course, it would be incredible if he played for us, that is clearly a long way off. But I think there is more chance of him playing for Germany than England."

The German team will take part in the ICC World Cricket League Division 5 tournament in Jersey next May.

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