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Australia can handle post-Warne change of guard

india Updated: Dec 21, 2006 14:19 IST
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Australia coach John Buchanan admitted on Thursday that Shane Warne's Test retirement would leave a huge void in his side, but insisted plans were in place to cope with a changing of the guard.

Veteran paceman Glenn McGrath is tipped to be the next Australian to call stumps on his career, and Buchanan said it was only a matter of time before Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist retired.

Batsman Damien Martyn has already departed, shocking his teammates when he walked away from the game on the eve of the third Ashes Test.

The Australian team threw England's "Dad's Army" jibes back in their faces by crushing the tourists to take an unbeatable 3-0 series lead and reclaim the Ashes last week, but questions remain about what happens when the crop of ageing champions move on.

Buchanan said Australia had the infrastructure in place to handle the strain of a mass exodus, unlike the 1980s when Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappell and Rod Marsh's departure crippled the national side.

"One of the significant differences that has occurred is that there are things like the Centre of Excellence program, Australia A, and we have seen the emergence of young talent," he said.

"The transition from moving the older, great players out (for) newer, younger players should be a bit easier than in the past.

"(Retirements) will occur, whether that be within two, three, six or 12 months, but it heralds an exciting time in Australian cricket."

Buchanan, who will step down in April after the Cricket World Cup, hinted that Warne's departure may force Australia to rethink the positive, attacking game plans that have allowed it to dominate world cricket in recent decades.

"Certainly from a selection point of view and looking into the future that will now be a huge void that will take maybe generations to fill," he said.

"When you lose one of your great players it does mean you have to re-think and re-look at your team, its balance and the way you want to play your game."

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