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Jenny Thompson at Lord's
September 7, 2006
With what is likely to be Shane Warne's last home Ashes just around the corner, it must be time for some verbal sparring, right? Apparently not.
In fact, he is talking up the opposition. "England can be the best side in the world if they play consistently," he said, speaking at Lord's where he was helping the equipment manufacturer Mitre to find the next spin bowler, with 80 would-be Warnes descending on the ground.
Surprisingly, as a disciple of Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh's reign of mental disintegration, mind games are not for him. "I'm not into things like Glenn McGrath and targeting. My job is to get as many wickets as I possibly can and that's what I will hopefully do." But then that's a big enough mind game in itself, and the bookies are sure to make him odds-on favourite to be top wicket-taker come November.
Warne insists that this year's Ashes, his fourth at home and eighth in total, isn't even in his thoughts yet. "I'm not even thinking about it," he says straight faced, although you suspect that's far from the truth, particularly as he's not involved with the Champions Trophy having long given up one-day cricket to prolong his Test career.
"It's a few months away yet. Then I will start enjoying the banter. But I'm not ready to go yet." He will have plenty of time to prepare, though, once Hampshire's season comes to a close at the end of September.
And just how motivated will he be, given this is probably his last Ashes at home? "I'm not any more motivated than any other series I play whether it's against Pakistan, India, England." That will be very motivated, then, especially as Australia have some scores to settle. "So much has been said about one series but you have got to move on. It's going to be tough for England."
There was no shortage of motivation for the 80 children who are hoping to be the next Monty, the next Warne, or even the next Holly Colvin. Warne was on hand to judge two future spinners of potential and he picked Jordan Capell, a 13-year-old from Northampton, and Sacha Marshall, aged ten, from Farnham. And Warne was genuine in his enthusiasm for the scheme: "I hope that these kids will benefit from such events. Spin bowling has been a passion of mine since I was a kid."
In fact, he's just passionate about cricket, even English cricket, as shown in his commitment to Hampshire, his admiration of the county game and his return from the Australian training camp within hours of its completion. Yet he's still ready to torment his adopted home again.
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