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Shane Warne has suggested that his enforced one-year lay-off from cricket will help to prolong his international career. Warne, Australia's leading Test wicket-taker and one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Century, tested positive for a banned diuretic prior to the World Cup in February, but is determined to pick up where he left off when he returns next year.
"I think it will help me in the long run," said Warne, speaking at a gathering of Australia's Test cricketers in Sydney. "I think I've still got two or three years left in the game. Having this year off is probably going to help me add on another year at the end of my career."
"The year I miss now is hopefully one I'll get back at the end," added Warne. "I've set out a plan. I've been speaking to [coach and mentor] Terry Jenner a fair bit and working on a few different things. I'm going to catch up with [former Test spinner] Johnny Gleeson while I'm in Sydney and talk about a few different things. We've got a few different things that hopefully when I come back, they'll be okay.
Asked about the current state of his bowling, Warne said: "I've only done it once since then [the suspension]. I'm a little bit rusty. Hopefully I'll pick it up quickly."
Warne's Test captain, Steve Waugh, also believes that a comeback is inevitable. "I've talked to him quite a bit in this enforced absence and I know he's very keen to come back," said Waugh. "He loves the big stage and the big opportunities and the big challenge, and all three of those will be happening next year. It's up to Shane. He's got the talent. If he's got the desire, there's no reason why he can't be successful."
Warne added that the presence in Sydney of so many current and former Australian Test cricketers had further fuelled his ambition. "It's like anything - if you love what you're doing, and you're passionate about it and it's taken away from you, you obviously miss it.
"Just spending time with these guys makes you appreciate ... when you all get together, there's a special bond between all the players of all the eras. We've all done the same thing, represented Australia. It makes you feel proud standing next to these sorts of guys."
For the time being though, Warne's comeback to Test cricket will be as a television commentator for Australia's Tests against Bangladesh in Darwin and Cairns this month.