Tue, Dec 14, 2010 - Page 19 News List

Australia cricket chief says Warne comeback ‘fanciful’

Reuters, SYDNEY

Talk of Shane Warne coming out of retirement to rescue Australia’s stumbling Ashes campaign is “fanciful,” according to Cricket Australia (CA) chief James Sutherland.

Australia’s comprehensive innnings and 71-run defeat by England in Adelaide last week sparked media calls for the recall of the retired 41-year-old spin bowling great.

Sutherland, however, said octagenarian television commentator Richie Benaud, who last bowled a ball on the Test stage in 1964, was as likely to pull on the baggy green cap again.

“Shane retired from Test cricket almost exactly four years ago and, by his own admission, he hasn’t touched a cricket bat or ball since the IPL [Indian Premier League] early this year,” Sutherland told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

“CA hasn’t spoken to him about playing and, while the selectors operate independently of CA management, I am not aware of them having any intention of talking to Shane,” he said.

“He is Australia’s greatest-ever bowler and he was always going to be irreplaceable. World cricket is unlikely to see the likes of him again in our lifetime,” Sutherland said. “There has been a lot of passionate debate about cricket since Adelaide, some of it’s sensible and some of it fanciful.”

Warne has played for the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, but his return would not fit with the selectors’ policy of looking to the future and building a new team of world beaters.

“I haven’t had too much to laugh about in the last week or so, but I did smile when I read Richie Benaud’s quote that the thing that disappointed him about this debate was that nobody had suggested he make a comeback himself,” Sutherland said.

“He went on to say Shane would be insane to think about it, and Richie knows a thing or two about leg spinning — as well as leg pulling,” he said.

Warne, who described the calls for his return as “flattering,” is still an influential voice in Australian cricket and it was on his recommendation that Michael Beer was plucked from obscurity to join the squad for the Perth Test.

The left-armer, who has played just five first-class matches, would be the 10th spinner to try and replace Warne in the Test side if he is named in the starting XI for the third Ashes encounter starting on Thursday.

Australia, who whitewashed England 5-0 in their last home Ashes series four years ago, need to win two of the last three Tests to reclaim the famous urn.

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