English ~~Warne~~ not to figure in Ashes battle

Published: Saturday, October 14, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:England have been forced to leave behind their 'overweight' secret weapon used in last year's Ashes series triumph for next month's return series in Australia, reports said Saturday.

'Merlyn', the spin bowling machine credited with guiding England to Ashes glory last year, will be left at home because it is too heavy to transport.

England's batsmen spent hours prior to the last Ashes facing Merlyn, which can be used to simulate the flight, turn and bounce of an entire over by Australia's champion spinner Shane Warne.

England's former bowling coach Troy Cooley, now back in the Australian camp, cited Merlyn as perhaps the decisive influence between the two sides.

"Shane Warne took 40 wickets during the Ashes - but he might have taken 60 without Merlyn," Cooley told The Daily Telegraph Saturday.

Merlyn weighs 500 kg (1,100 pounds) and will not be able to travel with the England team by plane. It is usually transported around England by horse float.

"He is quite heavy, but very manoeuvrable on the flat and it is easy getting around the venues in England," said Matthew Pryor, a spokesman for the company that operates the machine.

"But given the distances in Australia we would not be able to drive 'him' everywhere, so there are obviously cost implications involved in flying 'him' around."

Merlyn was first discovered by former Australian Test wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, then England Cricket Academy director, who travelled to Wales to see the machine and its 77-year-old inventor Henry Pryor.

Marsh invited Pryor to bring his equipment to the academy in Loughborough, where injured England captain Michael Vaughan spotted it and drafted it into use for England ahead of the Ashes.

"It has been decided to not bring Merlyn on logistical grounds," English and Wales Cricket Board communications boss Colin Gibson told the newspaper.

"We'll use your superb net bowlers as we always have."

The opening Ashes Test begins at the Gabba ground in Brisbane on Nov 23.


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