Magazine article The Spectator

Resumption of Warne

Magazine article The Spectator

Resumption of Warne

Article excerpt

Shane Warne is back and doing what he likes most - writing his own notices. The Australian wrist spinner, banned for a year after taking a diuretic to assist his attempts to lose weight, returned to the national side last week in Sri Lanka and immediately bowled the team to a victory that was remarkable even by their Olympian standards. Resuming their second innings 161 runs behind, Australia eventually won by the little matter of 197 runs. Three batsmen made centuries to give the bowlers a chance, but it was Warne who hogged the headlines after taking five wickets for the second time in the match. And so Australia, who lost their last series in Sri Lanka, now have a wonderful chance of avenging that defeat under their new captain, Ricky Ponting.

A year ago, when Warne faced a press conference in Johannesburg and announced that he was returning home from the World Cup before he had bowled a single ball, after failing that drugs test, it was uncertain whether he had any kind of future. Hampshire, the English club he was expected to captain, endured a miserable summer without him, and even the Aussies were rocked. They won the World Cup emphatically, but the recent Test series with India finished 1-1, with the Indian batsmen thumping the Australian bowlers all over the place.

But now that he is back, with the best wishes of everybody within the game, Warne appears good for a few dozen more wickets. His ninth in Colombo was the 500th of his Test career, and he should soon move past Courtney Walsh, the world record-holder. Nobody deserves the honour more, because nobody has done more to change the face of the game in recent years. When Warne emerged in 1991, slow bowlers only got on when the fast men needed a breather. …

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