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Warne keeps his powder dry for Ashes series

Published: Sunday, May 7, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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London:Shane Warne has said it is possible he could still be a Test match cricketer when Australia return to England for the 2009 Ashes series.

It was widely assumed that last year's epic Ashes contest, where Warne took 40 wickets only to finish on the losing side, would be the legendary leg-spinner's final Test campaign on English soil.

But Warne, back in England where he is captaining Hampshire in the County Championship in the run-up to the next Ashes series which starts in Australia later this year, said there was no reason to suppose he was on the verge of ending his Test career even though he recently re-iterated that he was retired from One-day Internationals.

"If I'm bowling well and enjoying it, I've got no right to say this is my last Test match in Sydney next year," said Warne, who will be 37 in September.

"Who knows? I might be able to make another Ashes series out here (England) in 2009," added the Victoria star, who has taken a world record 685 wickets in 140 Tests.

Australia great Richie Benaud has said Warne should keep going until the age of 40 and Warne also told Britain's Sunday Times he respected his fellow leg-spinner's opinion.

"Whether I can do that or not I don't know. I know that Richie thinks I can. And if Richie wants me to do that, I'll try my best."

Warne, who took seven for 99 in Hampshire's recent win over Middlesex, has shown no on-field side effects from the break-up of his marriage last year.

Indeed, in the last 10 months, Warne has claimed 102 Test wickets while also leading Hampshire to runners-up spot in last year's County Championship and guiding the southern county to the 2005 C and G Trophy, English domestic cricket's premier One-day competition.

"Cricket's my hobby, my passion, my love. It's what I am, a cricketer and I'm not anything else and I don't pretend to be," he said.

"I love playing the game, talking about the game," added Warne, who could become the first bowler to take 1,000 Test wickets if he maintains his present strike-rate.

"I enjoy being captain. I think it brings out the best in me. I don't aspire to take over from Ricky Ponting (as Australia captain). I don't."

He insisted: "I am very honoured to captain a county and think the guys have enjoyed me doing it. We (Hampshire) have done pretty well."

Meanwhile he admitted that England's first Ashes series win for 19 years had served as a wake-up call to the previously all-conquering Australian side.

"Sometimes you have to lose to reassess where you're at and become better. "I'm not so sure we'd gone along so well over the past few years. We hadn't lost too many series. We hadn't gone through the motions exactly, but just gone along until we got challenged.

"England's bowling was of the highest standard. The last time I faced that was probably Pakistan and West Indies in the early 1990s.

"But since we've been challenged (by England) we've won 11 out of 12 Tests."

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