Bowling great Shane Warne says he will consider a dramatic Test return in next year's Ashes series against England if Australia lack a top-class spinner, it was reported Tuesday.
Warne retired in January 2007 after Australia reclaimed the Ashes 5-0 at home, ending his 145-Test career with 708 wickets at 25.42, a world record at the time.
But the 38-year-old told Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper that the prospect of returning to face the old enemy would be tempting if his replacement Stuart MacGill was unavailable and captain Ricky Ponting wanted him.
"If Australia really needed me and there was no one else around, and Ricky Ponting thought I could do the job, you would weigh up the options," Warne told the newspaper.
"If Stuey MacGill fell over and broke his leg, and there were no other spinners around, and Ricky came out and said, 'Mate, can you please help us out for this one-off tour? We need you,' that is something I would weigh up."
Warne said any comeback would be a one-off, pointing out that he retired to spend more time with his children and escape the grind of touring internationally "here, there and everywhere."
"If you could just turn up and play Test cricket, that would be cool," he said. "I would definitely consider that. At this stage, it is a fairytale."
Warne had no doubts he could still deliver at Test level and would still be Australia's top spinner had he not retired.
"If I wanted to keep playing I don't think there would be an issue with me being the number one spinner and performing," he said. "I would still love to be playing international cricket, and miss it because I devoted 20 years to first-class cricket."
Ponting was sceptical about the prospect of a Warne comeback, although he acknowledged the bowler remained a potent force.
"He has never mentioned anything to me about coming back for the Ashes and I don't think that will happen," he told The Australian newspaper in the West Indies, where he is touring with the national side.
"We all knew when he retired that it had nothing to do with his bowling, we knew he could keep bowling well for a number of years if he wanted to."
Cricket Australia spokesman Philip Pope also poured cold water on the idea, pointing to MacGill's form in the West Indies, where he took seven wickets in a tour match at Jamaica's Sabina Park.
"We should all have a bit of perspective. Stuart MacGill is looking as fit as I've seen him in the last few years," Pope told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"He's over in the West Indies taking wickets, he's preparing to play a Test match for Australia.
"I spoke to Shane when he came into the office before he left for India and this kind of story certainly wasn't on his agenda."