Twenty20 exit could benifit Australia says Warne

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The Independent Online

Spin legend Shane Warne believes Australia's early exit from the World Twenty20 could be a "blessing in disguise" ahead of this summer's Ashes series.

Ricky Ponting's team were eliminated at the group stage of the limited-overs showpiece in England following defeats to West Indies and Sri Lanka in their group games.

But Warne reckons the extra preparation time may prove a surprise bonus.

"I think in a way, it's a blessing in disguise," he said. "We can now focus in on the Ashes. I wish we were still in the Twenty20, because it's a wonderful game to play.

"It's an important form of the game in cricket, but now you have to look at the positives. And the positives are that our guys can prepare for the Ashes in the next couple of weeks.

"Those warm-up games they've got. All their talking will focus and preparation would be on the Ashes."

This will be the first Ashes campaign Warne has not played in since 1990-91, but the man who has tormented the English for much of the past two decades believes Australia have the edge heading into the series.

"Everyone has sort of forgotten there was an Ashes series in Australia after the 2005 one, (when) England outplayed us and they deserved to win," he said.

"After that the Australian team was hurt. We wanted to play well, we wanted to give it to the Poms and we beat them 5-0 (in 2006-07).

"I think we're going in as favourites. I think we're the best side. It's just who plays better. I think they are two evenly matched sides. England has got some match winners. A lot will depend on the conditions."