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November 5, 2005
Shane Warne, the Australian legspinner, has given a hint that he might be around for next year's much-awaited Ashes series against England after another sleight-of-hand performance to conjure five West Indian wickets at Brisbane on November 5.
Warne, 36, snared 5 for 48, including a spell of 4 for 5 off eight overs, to help dismiss the West Indies for 210 and set Australia on the way to a massive 508-run lead in the first Test with two days to play at the Gabba. In doing so, he pulled out his entire box of tricks to bamboozle the West Indies lower order and said he was as fit as he has ever been.
"My last four or five years, since I've overcome all my injuries in 2001, my record in my last 40-50 Tests has probably been better than at any stage of my career," Warne said. "I couldn't land my flippers and wrong'uns any better than I did today." Warne also said he was bedeviled by injuries between 1998 and 2001 which curtailed his ability to bowl some of the contortionist deliveries which statistically has made him the greatest leg-spinner of all-time. "Between those years I had about four injuries. I had two shoulder injuries, an operation on my finger, operation on my knee, so in that time I was never really comfortable in anything I was doing."
Warne took wickets with googlies and flippers to swell his Test career tally to 634 wickets in his 130th Test match. "For the last couple of years I've tried to get the flipper back. Every time I go to the nets I practice it. It's a lot harder to bowl it with the shoulder but at the moment I'm pretty fit and my shoulder is really strong." He added that the extra left-handers in the West Indian batting lineup gave him more opportunity to use his googly, the delivery that turns the opposite way to a leg-break. "One of the keys to my game is that I've been pretty patient and I am pretty consistent and that's because I haven't tried to do too much," he said. "The reason I've worked on the wrong'uns is because the West Indies have so many left-handers and I've always bowled a few wrong'uns when a side has had lots of left-handers. I prefer to bowl to left-handers in the second innings because they always have to play every ball to your leg-break (out of the footmarks). They can't pad up and you can get out lbw for not playing a shot."
Asked if he would play on for Australia and have another crack at England in the 2006-07 home Ashes series, Warne was circumspect. "If I'm enjoying my cricket and bowling injury-free then I hope I am playing in the next Ashes series. I have no immediate plans to retire. I'm enjoying my cricket, simple as that."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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