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Warne should keep bowling till he wants: Benaud

Published: Friday, November 4, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Sydney:Shane Warne has been urged to follow Australian spin immortals Bill O'Reilly and Clarrie Grimmett and keep bowling past his 40th birthday.

Australia's voice of cricket, leg-spin great Richie Benaud, says Warne should be handed a green card by Test selectors to defy father time and "keep bowling as long as he wants".

Warne, 36, has 629 Test wickets and would push towards the Mt Everest of bowling milestones - 1000 wickets - if he played until the end of the decade.

The 40-year age barrier has only been conquered by 16 Australian Test cricketers - including leg spinners Grimmett and O'Reilly, who played until they were 44 and 40 respectively.

Commentary doyen Benaud believes Warne should aim to do the same if he stays free of injury and is not constrained by his troublesome shoulder.

"Warne is an absolute champion and I see no real reason why he could not bowl for as long as he wants ... into his 40s," Benaud said.

"Personally, I hope he does keep bowling for many years. It would depend on the physical side of things but providing he stays fit he should stay around for quite a while yet."

Warne's one-year drug ban for taking a banned diuretic and his retirement from one-day international cricket in 2003 are two key factors that have prolonged his Test career.

A new challenge, that of partnering fellow leg spinner Stuart MacGill in the Test side, could keep Warne yearning for more.

Benaud, 75, is an unabashed fan of the Warne-MacGill double act that has been kept on ice for the first Test at the Gabba.

"I'm sure it would work, I think they can be very effective bowling together," Benaud said. "MacGill has been great in limited opportunities. He is improving. I don't think we have seen the best of him."

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