Sydney: Shane Warne would be targeting next year's tour to India if he decided to play on after the expiry of his 12-month drug ban. One of world cricket's highest profile players was put out of the game on Saturday for 12 months for testing positive to banned diuretic drugs. He said he intended to lodge an appeal against the Australian Cricket Board's anti- doping panel decision. He was expected to take his case to the National Disputes Centre, a conglomerate of the Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Association, Sports Industry Australia and the Australian Sports Commission. Warne must submit his appeal within seven days and base it on a specific finding or fact of law. The disputes centre is likely to hear the appeal in seven to 10 days.
The 12-month ban, ending on February 10, 2004, covers the current World Cup in South Africa and Australia's four-Test series in the Caribbean against the West Indies, starting on April 10. He will also miss the two-Test home series against Bangladesh in July and August and next (southern) summer's home Test series against either Zimbabwe or Sri Lanka and India, as well as the away series against Sri Lanka in February next year. If Warne does intend to continue his cricket career at the then age of 34 his goal would be a return to the sub-continent against India in September 2004, a place where he has struggled to take wickets in the past. Warne's leg spin has netted him 20 wickets in six Tests at an expensive 52.25 runs per wicket.
David Hookes, coach of Warne's Victorian state side, said while Warne had the physical ability to return, the mental side of a comeback would be the sternest challenge. "I think it's a mental issue that he's got to deal with. He's tough enough to do it, that's not a problem. He's come back from injuries before that would debilitate most people," Hookes said. "The physical aspect is not a problem, it's a matter of whether he says, 'enough's enough,' and he wants to give it away." Chairman of Australia's selectors Trevor Hohns said on Sunday whether the suspension marked the end of an outstanding career was a decision for Warne.
"That's now up to Shane to weigh that up, whether he wants to continue after this 12 months," he said. "But I'm sure, he'll obviously have plenty of time to consider that, once again that will be his decision totally. Also likely to be in Warne's thoughts is the tantalising prospect of overhauling West Indian paceman Courtney Walsh to become the all-time leading Test wicket-taker. He is Australia's greatest wicket-taker with 491 in 107 Tests and needs 29 wickets to overtake Walsh's world mark of 519 Test wickets.