Warne inspires nationwide search for a 'wristy'

Shane Warne, cricket’s greatest wicket-taker, is turning from England foe to friend.

The Australian, who has claimed 172 English Test wickets and counting, announced his involvement on Monday in a school initiative aiming to bolster and hone England’s scant spin-bowling skills.

Warne blames conservative county captains partly for why too few quality slow bowlers are playing for England.

“In this country, there are a lot of different reasons why spin bowling isn’t successful,” he said. “One is the weather. Second, is the captaincy in each of the counties.
And kids growing up—between 8, 9, 10 years of age till 16, 17, 18—they’re getting the wrong advice in coaching.”

The 100 best child spin bowlers across England will attend a training camp on September 6 with Warne, who in indoor nets showed his full repertoire of deliveries to a group of East End kids.

“If I’m helping out some ‘leggies’ or ‘offies’—and even if they are Poms—I think it is my duty to keep that spin-bowling brotherhood going around the world,” Warne said.

If a protégé of Warne’s was to spin England to Ashes success, Warne says he’d be chuffed.

“If that’s the case, that’s great,” he said. “I think we want to see spin bowling live on; and in this country, in particular, there is a lack of spin bowling.

“If we produce a ‘wristy’ that plays for England and does really well, that will make me feel pretty proud.”

Warne, who also announced a new five-year sponsorship deal, was speaking a day after a British tabloid reported he’d recently had sex with two women at the same time, and printed lurid photographs.

He separated from his wife during last year’s Ashes series—when he took 40 wickets as England reclaimed the urn for the first time since 1989—amid tabloid reports his serial infidelity caused the split.

Warne holds the world record of 685 test wickets, and he didn’t think his legacy will be tainted by off-field headlines.

“No, I don’t think it does. I’m a cricketer and that’s what I am. I’m not here to talk about all that sort of stuff.

“Your private life should be your private life.”

The 36-year-old Warne—who took 7-99 as Hampshire captain against Middlesex last week—didn’t rule out playing in the 2009 Ashes series, shortly after which he’ll turn 40, or beyond.

“Never say never. As long as I’m bowling well, batting well and catching OK, then I’ll continue to play,” he said. “I’m pretty fit at the moment and I’m bowling as well as ever over the past couple of years. In three or four years if I’m still around, then who knows? I might be able to play longer than that.” - Sapa-AP

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