Belfast Telegraph

The Ashes: Shane Warne refuses to rule out dramatic comeback

Australia legend Shane Warne is remaining coy over speculation could make a sensational Test comeback.

The 41-year-old former leg spinner, with Test 708 wickets to his name, retired after Australia's 5-0 whitewash of England in the 2006/07 Ashes series, but calls have grown for him to make a short-term return to the international game following his country's dismal start to the current series.

The stark danger of Australia losing a home Ashes series for the first time in 24 years has prompted the talk, which Warne himself has done little to quash.

While commentating on the second Test in Adelaide last week he admitted he could never say never, while he has also mentioned the idea on his Twitter page in recent weeks.

He has now arrived in England for some promotional duties and tweeted upon his arrival: “Just landed in London, it's freezing and was welcomed by press and photographers asking am I making a comeback ? What have I missed???”

Earlier in the day, the Victorian had used his column in the Daily Telegraph to acknowledge the speculation that was mounting, particularly in Australia, where Sydney Morning Herald writer Peter FitzSimons had called for him to replace under-fire Ricky Ponting as captain.

“There has been a bit written in Australia and people have been asking me about making a comeback,” Warne said. “All I can say is that it is very flattering to hear those words.”

Some bookmakers are offering odds as short as 6-1 that Warne will play in at least one of the remaining three tests, while in his homeland, fans have launched the website www.bringbackwarne.com, to which fans can make donations, all of which will be paid to Warne should he play.

The current total has passed 3791 Australia dollars.

Darren Lehmann, one of Warne's friends and former team-mates also added in the Herald Sun: “He would have to be fit obviously but he's a genius, he could do anything.” Ahead of the 2009 Ashes series, Warne had suggested he would be willing to answer an SOS call from Ponting. He said: “If Australia really needed me and there was no-one else around and Ricky thought I could do the job, you would weigh up the options.

“If there were no other spinners around and Ricky came out and said ‘Mate, can you please help us out for this one-off tour, we need you’ that is something I would weigh up.”

Ex-England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff said: “I'd love to see Warnie play again, it would be unbelievable.”

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