Warne skips Big Bash in hope of a UK White Christmas
The Big Bash League's marquee player Shane Warne will miss the Melbourne Stars clash with the Adelaide Strikers after travelling to the UK for Christmas.
The Stars sent a press release late on Christmas Eve saying that their captain had "pre-existing commitments in the United Kingdom" and would miss the match scheduled for Thursday December 27.
Warne made no secret of his location announcing on twitter: "Am spending my first Christmas away from Melbourne in 43 years I was hoping for a white Christmas in the UK & build snowmen too - sob !!! X".
It has been widely reported that part of Warne's contract to play in the Big Bash League has been funded directly by Cricket Australia. Neither CA nor the South Australian Cricket Association has commented on Warne missing the match in Adelaide where a large crowd is expected.
Former Stars captain Cameron White will take the reigns for the important clash with the Strikers, in which either side could all but sure up a semi-final berth.
"It was something that was pre-arranged I think," White said about Warne's absence.
"It is something that the team always knew was going to happen. He's actually bowling quite well at the moment. But the team is very comfortable with the situation."
The two teams enter the match in fantastic form. The Strikers thumped the Sixers by nine wickets in Adelaide last Sunday to notch their third win of the tournament. Their attack featured three spinners in Johan Botha, Cameron Boyce and Brad Young, as well as the express pace of Shaun Tait.
The Stars have their own firebrand, the form bowler of the tournament Lasith Malinga. But in Warne's absence the spin duties will be left to the part-timers of White, David Hussey, and Glenn Maxwell, unless they select the inexperienced left-arm orthodox bowler Clive Rose. The Stars will get Luke Wright back from international duties with England.
Shane Warne is scheduled to return for the Stars match with the Brisbane Heat on January 3.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth