Cricket: Operation bounces Warne out of Ashes

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND look to have been spared the attentions of Shane Warne next winter after surgery on the Australian leg spinner's shoulder yesterday revealed serious damage that could take up to 12 months to repair.

The injury to the right bowling shoulder of the most prolific spinner in Test history was far worse than expected and could have been career- threatening had Warne attempted to play any more cricket.

Doctors discovered a torn rotator cuff and cartilage, which required immediate reconstruction. Warne's arm will be in a sling for four to six weeks and he then faces five to 11 months recuperation. "It's disappointing news," the 28-year-old Warne said. "It's worse than we had hoped, but I will just have to do all the right things from now on to get it right.

"If I have to put most of my life on hold, then I'll do that. But it's not going to be easy, especially on my wife and daughter."

Warne, who has taken 313 wickets in 67 Tests at an average of 24.78, stands to miss the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Australia's tour of Pakistan in September, the Ashes series against Alec Stewart's visiting England in November and the tour to West Indies next February.

"The doctors told me that if the rehabilitation goes well, the shoulder will eventually be better than brand new, so there's no reason why I couldn't have another five years playing for Australia, as long as my form is good enough," said Warne, who struggled through Australia's recent tour of India, where a fall aggravated the injury.

Geoff Marsh, the Australian coach, declared that it was imperative that Warne fully recovered before returning to the fray. "If Shane's out for a year, then that's the case," he said. "He's played in a lot of pain for 12 months."

The setback further weakens Australia's front-line attack and again raises the question of overuse. Pacemen Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie missed most of last summer with stomach and back complaints.