Injured Warne vows to recover on time for World Cup

Published: Tuesday, December 17, 2002, 21:12 [IST]
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Melbourne: Shane Warne says he will do everything he can to recover on time for next February's World Cup in South Africa. The champion Australian leg spinner on Tuesday made his first appearance since Monday's surgery on his dislocated right bowling shoulder. He dislocated the shoulder when he dived for a ball during a One-day match against England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.

Warne said he was still feeling the effects of his operation and was disappointed at his latest injury setback. "All I know is I'm going to give it my best shot to try and get it right as quick as I can," Warne told a press conference on Tuesday. "Hopefully, that'll give me enough time for the World Cup. If it's not, then so be it." The Australian selectors will pick Warne in the final Cup squad of 15 on December 31, having confirmed on Tuesday they can replace him even during the tournament if his shoulder does not heal.

Warne will be on a four-to-six-week timetable to return to the top level if he is to play in the Cup, starting in February in South Africa, and there are already doubts as to whether this is feasible. "I wouldn't put myself up for selection if I didn't think I could deliver the goods," he said. "That's no good for Australia's chances of regaining the World Cup and I don't think it would do myself any good. "I've done too much hard work and done some pretty good things on the field. I don't want to come back and be no good, get smashed all over the park and be dropped again." Warne was dropped during the 1999 West Indies tour as he came back from major shoulder surgery.

Warne will start his rehabilitation next Monday and felt he would know after a month how the shoulder was healing. "All I know is I'm not going to rush back to make sure I'm right (for the Cup)." The 33-year-old felt he had several seasons of top-flight cricket beyond the World Cup. "I'm pretty disappointed at the moment, things were going really well. Over the last few years I've struggled to get back to full fitness. I've been on a fitness campaign the last 12 months and have been as fit as I've ever been, and bowling probably better than I ever have. "After all the injuries that I've had, the shoulder, the (broken spinning) finger, it's pretty disappointing to have what happened to me the other night.

"But I think I've shown a fair bit of courage ... and that's something I'll have to face now." ACB chief executive James Sutherland confirmed at Warne's media conference that Australia had some flexibility with its Cup squad. "The allowance within that, with injuries, is that a player can pull out at any stage after December 31, even after the tournament has started. "They can be replaced, subject to confirmation by medical authorities that it's a genuine injury." But Sutherland said there was still some confusion as to whether a replacement could come from outside the initial squad of 30, named early this month.

The World Cup is scheduled to start on February 9 in South Africa. Australia's first match in the tournament is against Pakistan in Johannesburg two days later. Warne needed reconstruction surgery on his right shoulder in 1998, forcing him out of the first four Tests of the 1998-99 home Ashes series against England. The wrist spinner is Test cricket's second-highest wicket taker with 491 wickets, behind West Indian Courtney Walsh.

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