Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Warne Can Turn Series on Its Head; Freddie Flintoff May Have Stolen the Show in the Second Test, but Shane Warne Reminds England That He Can Still Wreak Havoc in This Ashes Battle, Reports Ian Chadband

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Warne Can Turn Series on Its Head; Freddie Flintoff May Have Stolen the Show in the Second Test, but Shane Warne Reminds England That He Can Still Wreak Havoc in This Ashes Battle, Reports Ian Chadband

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

STEAL Shane Warne's thunder and he always responds with lightning.

Ten wickets, the ball from hell (mark 2) and a doughty part in a remarkable rearguard action wasn't enough to outshine Freddie Flintoff at Edgbaston but it appears only to have made dear old 'Hollywood' even more determined not to be upstaged again.

For sitting in the Old Trafford Long Room yesterday, overlooking the stage where he first announced his genius to us a dozen years before, Warne clearly felt it was time to remind everyone in Freddie's manor who the real star turn remains in this Ashes contest.

When asked about the prospect of snaffling just one wicket in tomorrow's Third Test here to take his record tally to an historic 600, our beach-blond nemesis evidently felt he should raise the stakes by suggesting that, actually, he might end up bagging rather more than that. Like 700 wickets.

And then a few more.

"I looked up my stats the other day, which I don't usually do and looked at how long it's taken me to get those three lots of 200 wickets," mused Warne, who discovered it took 42 Tests for him to get 200, another 50 to reach 400 yet only 34 more Tests for the latest 199.

"So I must be doing something pretty right. I'm taking my wickets at a better rate than I've ever done in my life. I suppose it will be a little bit dictated by whatever happens in my personal life but if I continue to bowl as well as I think I am and my enjoyment is there, then I suppose 700 wickets or even more is a possibility."

Gulp. Here was the master spinner turning effortlessly into master psychologist.

Australia have been in need of a bit of comfort since the old certainties of Ashes combat disappeared in Sunday's glorious madness. After all, they'd lost a Test in the most agonising fashion, seen their best paceman Glenn McGrath succumb to a daft injury and their other spearhead Brett Lee confined to hospital.

So by taking this opportunity to disabuse his English prey of the idea that this will be his last Ashes hunt - landing 700 wickets would entail at least one more twirl back at home in 2006-07 - Warne was perhaps trying to restore the natural order, offering a vision of a nightmare for English batsmen which never seems to disappear.

Then by pointing out that he's in such great form and that Andrew Strauss was already now his personal bunny, Warne was effectively dismissing the notion that after Edgbaston, Australia should somehow feel on the defensive.

The man just doesn't do defence.

Particularly not at spin-friendly Old Trafford where groundsman Peter Marron has been cheekily reminding Warne: "Don't forget, I made you a superstar".

It's rumoured that a pale Mike Gatting has been standing frozen at the crease out there these past 12 years trying to fathom what exactly happened with that kid's first Ashes delivery, Since then, Warne has won all four international matches he's played here, taking 22 wickets at 12. …

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