With Australia’s Ashes campaign on the ropes after a crushing second Test loss to England, local sports writers in Australia have resorted to trying to cajole 41-year-old leg-spinner Shane Warne out of retirement to save the cricket team in their hour of need.
“Warne, as famous for generating tabloid headlines as match-winning performances, would revitalize Australia’s blunt attack which took only six wickets in their past two innings,” columnist Peter Fitzsimons, a former Australia rugby international, wrote in Wednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald.
“Yes, England are on course for their first stunning victory since 1986-87 and it will be at our expense. Unless we do something. Who ya gonna call? Not Ghostbusters. Why not Shane Warne?”
“You need to get these wickets. You have a choice of, say, Xavier Doherty, Nathan Hauritz, Cameron White and Shane Warne, in his Channel Nine commentary gear. How many would really throw the ball to any of the first three in such a scenario?” he added.
The stocky blond extrovert from Melbourne’s suburbs relished terrorizing English batsmen over the course of a long, illustrious career, but retired from international cricket after Australia whitewashed England 5-0 in the last home series.
He has since played for the Rajasthan Royals in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) amid his various media commitments, and is regarded by some Australian pundits as one of the finest cricketing brains never to have captained the national team.
More than 70% of respondents to an online survey carried by the tabloid Daily Telegraph said Warne should be recalled, but the spinner has played a straight bat. “There has been a bit written in Australia and people have been asking me about making a comeback. All I can say is that it is very flattering to hear those words,” Warne wrote in the Telegraph, a British newspaper.
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The leg-spinner instead plumped for Michael Beer, an untried state cricketer, for his left-arm spin and local knowledge of Perth’s Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) ground, where Australia will hope to peg back the 1-0 series deficit in the third Test next week.
“Sometimes horses for courses works. Australia have to explore all options and win this next match to get back in this series,” Warne said.
Warne could be coaxed out of retirement, but would need to be handed the captaincy, Fitzsimons said.
“I say, OK. Ricky Ponting, we love you and thanks, but it just isn’t working ... In desperate straits, we need to not only roll the dice, but go to the man who has rolled the dice for a living, even in his downtime,” Fitzsimons added.