Warne defends ageing Aussies ahead of Ashes

Published: Tuesday, October 24, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Spin-king Shane Warne has defended Australia's ageing top-order batsmen and the form of fast bowler Glenn McGrath ahead of next month's Ashes series against England.

Australian fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee said Monday he feared the age of Australia's top order batsmen would expose the home side to defeat in the much-anticipated clash.

"The age only comes into it if you are not performing," said 37-year-old Warne on Tuesday.

"We've performed pretty well, this group of players, for a period of time. Since the Ashes we've won 11 out of 12 Tests so I think we've been performing OK."

Lillee noted that opener Justin Langer will be 36 when the series begins at the Gabba on November 23, while Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist will all be 35.

"Over a period of time, as a fast bowler, you get to learn that a batsman's reflexes definitely get slower as he gets older," he wrote in his column for The West Australian newspaper on Monday.

"Mark my word, the England pace attack, mentally buoyed and on faster Australian wickets, will this summer be at their absolute peak age-wise.

"It doesn't matter how fit a batsman is - his reflexes are just not going to get any better as he gets older, so problems are harder to hide.

Warne, speaking at the launch of his book "Shane Warne, My Illustrated Career", also sprang to the defence of McGrath, whose form has been questioned by former Australian players Geoff Lawson and Ian Chappell.

"I think Glenn McGrath's had a fair bit of time out," he said.

"I wouldn't be writing Glenn McGrath off, he's a champion and I think Australia need Glenn McGrath. I think with him, he just needs a bit of bowling."

McGrath is Test cricket's all-time leading wicket-taking fast bowler with 542 wickets in 119 Tests.


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