London: Legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne has said calls for his return to Test cricket in a bid to boost Australia’s flagging Ashes hope are “very flattering”.
But he has also said Australia should now think about handing a debut to left-arm spinner Michael Beer.
Warne, 41, has not played Test cricket since retiring following Australia’s 5-0 whitewash of England on home soil in 2007.
Australia’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, with 708 in 145 matches, Warne has hinted at a comeback.
Calls for his return intensified after Ashes-holders England crushed Australia by an innings and 71 runs in Adelaide on Tuesday to go 1-0 up with three to play in the current series.
Brisbane cricket fan Ross Heywood has established a website devoted to raising funds to entice Warne to make himself available for the rest of the Ashes series.
Meanwhile Sydney Morning Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons has said Warne, widely regarded as an excellent cricket tactician, should replace Ricky Ponting as Australia captain.
“Ricky Ponting, we love you and thanks, but it just isn’t working... Shane Warne should be offered the captaincy if he will just make a three-Test comeback,” FitzSimons wrote.
But Warne played a straight bat to those overtures in his column for Britain’s newspaper here on Wednesday, saying: “There has been a bit written in Australia and people have been asking me about making a comeback. All I can say is that it is very flattering to hear those words.”
As for Ponting, Australia’s captain when they lost Ashes series in England in 2005 and 2009, Warne added: “It must be tough for Ricky Ponting at the moment. Leading a losing team and being the only captain who could lose three Ashes series in the modern era is hard for such a great player.”
Warne warned Australia against wholesale changes for the third Test, which starts at Perth’s WACA ground on December 16.
“This is not the time to blood youngsters or panic.”
“If Australia lose this series badly then that is the time to reassess everything and say, ‘Right, it is back to the drawing board’.
“Then they can give three or four youngsters a go, with four or five experienced players, and try to rectify things.”
However, he also said some changes may be needed for the third Test.
“The pitch is not fast and bouncy these days, so maybe you get a local guy who knows the Perth conditions, like left-arm spinner Michael Beer.
“Sometimes horses for courses works. Australia have to explore all options and win this next match to get back in this series. They need to look at all avenues and go all out for a win.”
Victory in Adelaide, one of England’s best all-round team performances in recent times, took the tourists a step closer to their goal of a first Ashes series win in Australia since Mike Gatting’s side achieved the feat in 1986/87.
“We have to give England credit. They are well-planned, hungry and up for it,” said Warne, who captained English county side Hampshire.
“A lot of the things we are saying about Australia now it seems we used to say about England all the time.”