Warne strains for spotlight … again
Shane Warne's sympathy for his close friend Michael Clarke - and fervent desire to remain in the spotlight - has extended far enough for the former Australian legspinner to present an outlandish scenario by which he would return to the Test team for next year's dual Ashes series.
Watching Clarke look powerless for just about the first time as Australian captain as Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith battered a wayward bowling attack to all parts of the WACA ground during the third Test, Warne said he felt a strong urge to help out. This time, Warne said, the desire to aid Clarke went beyond the regular advice he shares with his former team-mate around Test matches.
"I felt like I wanted to jump off the couch and grab the ball," Warne told News Ltd. "I really felt for Michael Clarke from a captaincy point of view. When you've got international bowlers bowling one or two full-tosses an over and half-volleys, I felt for Pup, I really felt for him."
While the scenario is highly improbable, if not laughable, Warne said a suitable persuasive phone call from Clarke would be enough for him to forego the "Shane Warne inc." of his life since retirement in order to play for Australia again. Warne even suggested he would be happy to return through grade cricket and earn his way with wickets for club and state before a Test recall could be considered.
"If your best friend says, 'Mate, I want you to seriously consider making a commitment to Australian cricket and coming back out of retirement', (to) make myself available for selection, that's a different scenario,'' Warne said. "Especially with back-to-back Ashes coming up next year, it could be a 12-month thing where you take three spinners with you and say, 'Righto, work with these spinners and see how you go for 12 months.' That's a different kettle of fish.
"I'm definitely not asking for Michael Clarke to come out and say that - that's a different scenario. You asked me if I think I could still play international cricket if I wanted to just turn up, do my bowling and if the first Test match was in three weeks, do you think I could play, (then) I'd have no hesitation in saying yes - and I think I'd do pretty well."
Presenting a fitter figure at the age of 43 than he did during most of his playing days, Warne argued the major obstacle to his return was not his bowling capability but the demands he now has on his time. He is set to captain the Melbourne Stars in this summer's BBL, and has bowled presentably for the team in their warm-up matches this week.
"From a purely bowling perspective, I don't think my form would be the concern, it's just the time and actually making that commitment again," Warne said. "My kids are turning 16, 14 and 12 next year and we're juggling two continents, Elizabeth [Hurley's] work and my work commitments. There's travel, sponsors, businesses, there are charities, so much stuff that I'd basically have to put it all on hold to make a commitment to international cricket.
"That's the reason I haven't for a while said I'm gonna make a comeback. For me it's not a matter of whether I could do it or not - I have absolutely no doubt if I wanted to commit to try to make a comeback and go through grade cricket, first-class cricket and try to get selected ... that I could do it."
While supportive of Clarke, Warne's words cannot be of much succour for Nathan Lyon, Australia's undisputed No. 1 spin bowler, who was the team's leading wicket-taker against South Africa while becoming the youngest Australian offspinner to reach 50 Test wickets.