Cricket: Warne to delay Ashes comeback

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The Independent Online
SHANE WARNE looks increasingly unlikely to play in the fourth Ashes Test against England in Melbourne on 26 December because he does not feel he will be back at his best.

"The Boxing Day aim might have been unrealistic," the leg-spinner said following Australia's victory in the Adelaide Test that kept the Ashes Down Under for the sixth successive occasion. Melbourne had been Warne's aim but he has struggled in his three Sheffield Shield appearances since returning from shoulder surgery, managing just six wickets.

In his last game for Victoria, against Queensland, Warne took one wicket and was disappointed with his second innings performance in particular. He has another Shield match, against New South Wales on Saturday, in which he can press his claims for a recall.

Warne also said he is ready to appear in front of a Pakistan inquiry into match-fixing if requested to by the Australian Cricket Board. "That's probably the way to go," Warne said yesterday. "I think the thing that has most disappointed me is the link between what we did and match-fixing, which is two completely separate issues." Warne and Mark Waugh admitted taking money from a bookmaker to provide pitch and weather information during Australia's 1994 tour of Sri Lanka.

But Mark Taylor, the Australia captain, said Waugh and Warne are unlikely to give evidence. "I will be very surprised if they go, after what happened in Pakistan last time," Taylor said. "When Mark Waugh and I were summoned to the court [during Australia's Pakistan tour in October] we were given various assurances that did not happen."