Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shane Warne confirms his return to cricket in Australia next month

 Guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 8 November 2011 09.41 GMT

    Shane Warne
    Shane Warne will return to cricket to play for the Melbourne Stars in Australia's Big Bash Twenty20 league next month. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Shane Warne's return from retirement has been confirmed after the Melbourne Stars announced that the renowned leg-spinner will play for them in the inaugural Big Bash League.

Warne was presented to a packed press conference at the MCG after signing a one-year deal that will see him return to competitive action in his homeland for the first time in five years. The 42-year-old had announced his retirement from all professional cricket only six months ago following the completion of the Indian Premier League.

However, he has been coaxed back out of this short exile by his newly-formed hometown club for the revamped Australian Twenty20 competition. The controversial spinner is set to be a major draw for the series, which begins next month with eight city-based franchises competing instead of the traditional state set-up.

His last appearance on home soil saw Warne claim his 1,000th international wicket as Australia completed a 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Sydney.

Warne, who will play for the entire competition rather than a make a cameo appearance, admitted he was itching to return in front of his adoring fans at the MCG. "I'm fitter than I have ever been. I had a few offers but the MCG has been my backyard for 20 years," he said.
"There were a few offers about playing a game here or there. And I thought if I'm going to do this, let's do it properly. I thought it was an opportunity where I could actually give something back to the game of cricket that has been so good to me.

"I'm fitter than I've ever been and over the next sort of month or so I'm going to really get into the bowling and doing all those sorts of things with the Melbourne Stars.

"It's got nothing to do with money. If it had something to do with money and me coming out to play cricket, I'd still be playing in the IPL. This is something that I'm passionate about. It's something new … And that's what enticed me."

Asked if he might play more than one year, Warne replied: "I'm 42. Let's see how it goes. I'm looking forward to having fun but I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I could make an impact."

Warne's return had been anticipated after he revealed in September that he would like to play for one of the two Melbourne-based teams.

The Big Bash League runs from 16 December to 28 January with each side able to field two overseas players. The England all-rounder Luke Wright will join Warne at the Stars while the former one-day captain Paul Collingwood (Perth Scorchers), Owais Shah (Hobart Hurricanes) and Michael Lumb (Sydney Sixers) have also been signed.
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