Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Maestro Warne Sets Up Magical Ashes

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Maestro Warne Sets Up Magical Ashes

Article excerpt

England legend Mike Gatting is looking forward to a `great summer' when record-breaking Australian bowler Shane Warne and his team-mates contest the Ashes in 2005.

Warne yesterday overtook Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan as the most prolific Test wicket-taker in history during the second day of the second Test against India, though the hosts performed defiantly.

Muralitharan surpassed Courtney Walsh's all-time record in May but Warne bowled himself in front of the Sri Lankan by making Irfan Pathan his 533rd Test victim in Chennai yesterday.

And former England and Middlesex batsman Gatting believes Warne's impressive comeback and the emergence of England's Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff makes next summer's Ashes an exciting prospect with England `closer than ever' to Australia.

"Warne might be difficult but we have got one or two guys in Harmison and Flintoff who might level the playing fields," he said.

"I think we're in for a great summer, and we have to hope both sides have no injuries.

"It will be lovely to see them all coming head-to-head, with England being so much closer to Australia than ever before."

The achievement marks an impressive comeback for Warne, who was banned from cricket for a year in 2003 after testing positive for the banned substances hydrochlorothiazide and amiloride.

And Gatting believes had he not been forced to sit on the sidelines while his rival Muralitharan continued to build on his total, it could have been even better for Warne.

"Warney's the best, his accuracy, spin and tenacity have shone through all the time," he told Sky Sports.

"His battle with Murali is great for cricket and all in all things are looking very bright.

"To have two guys up there in the five hundreds is extraordinary."

"He probably would have been miles ahead had he not been banned ( he certainly would have got 30 or 40 wickets during that year. …

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