Cricket: Warne is lined up by county

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The Independent Online
THE AUSTRALIAN spin bowler Shane Warne is in preliminary talks with Hampshire about becoming their overseas player next season, the club have confirmed.

Warne, widely regarded as the best leg spinner in the world, is being lined up as a replacement for the West Indies pace bowler Nixon McLean, who is likely to be touring with the national side. The club stress that discussions are at the preliminary stage, and also said Warne was just one of a number of players who were being considered.

Earlier this year Warne revealed he hoped to play in England next season, with Lancashire tipped as the county most likely side to sign him.

The 29-year-old has made attempts to play in England before but was twice refused permission by the Australian Cricket Board because of the international team's demanding international schedule. But any Australian objections this time around are expected to be overcome in time for the start of next year's county championship.

Warne spent a year in England as a teenager 10 years ago, playing for a Bristol club. Press reports in Australia have suggested that any club wanting Warne would need to offer a contract in the region of pounds 150,000 and the captaincy.