"There will be no comeback in this Ashes series," said Australian spin legend Shane Warne, putting to rest the frenzied speculation about his possible return to Test cricket due to the team's continuing slump.
The flamboyant cricketer turned commentator, who has been offered a million dollars to come back and rescue Australia's floundering Ashes campaign, said he is flattered by the attention but it won't be possible for him to actually return.
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, but there will be no comeback in this Ashes series," the 41 year old wrote in his column for 'The Herald Sun'. "I must say I was very flattered and surprised that a lot of you out there wanted me to make a comeback and play in the series," he said. Warne said that although he would have wanted to be in the thick of things but it would require quite an effort to be match fit. "...if there was to be a comeback I'd need time to get match fit. My general fitness is as good as it's ever been, I have worked hard on that lately, but toiling away for long spells and backing up the next day takes time, practice, lots of physiotherapy and even more dedication." "I must admit it did cross my mind, but then I woke up in London, where it was snowing, and realised I was only dreaming," he said. "I will continue to help the Aussie boys any way I can in their quest to reclaim the Ashes."
Warne predicted that the Aussies, who are down 0-1 in the series, would win the third match in Perth to draw level and keep the contest alive. "I think they will win this match because they know the conditions better. They also know the length to bowl, which will help them take 20 wickets." "It's about giving the English something to think about, start them doubting themselves and worrying about Australia," he said.
Warne, however, conceded that a loss in Perth could trigger wholesale changes in the team. "The way the Australian team plays this week will give us an indication of where it is really at. If the team fails here, then there will be some big changes at the end of the series, but a win could change everything. Warne lavished praise on rookie spinner Michael Beer, who could not get into the final XI for the ongoing third Test. "I'm sure the dressing room was daunting when he walked in because he did not know many teammates, but by now they will have realised he is a feisty player who doesn't get overawed and gives as good as he gets." "He is an in your face player and, as I said earlier, this is what the Australian team needs. He could surprise many with his ability to spin the ball. With his change of pace, he reminds me a lot of New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori," he said.