One year and 10 days after being told he had failed a random drugs test, Shane Warne is back in Australia's Test squad.
The selection of the leg-spinner in a 15-man squad for the forthcoming Test series against Sri Lanka was hardly in doubt. That he had played only three-quarters of a second XI match, one first-class game and a single one-day fixture since last February mattered little. "We have been encouraged and impressed by his bowling in the games he's played in since his return," Trevor Hohns, Australia's chairman of selectors, said.
Warne's inclusion marks the end of a turbulent 12 months. "It is fantastic to be back in the side and I am looking forward to touring with a good group of guys who have supported me over the years and especially over the last 12 months," Warne said. "It is fantastic to hear your name get read out and be told you are touring.
"I didn't expect to be bowling as well as I am only a week back playing, especially when I couldn't bowl to anyone [during the ban]. I feel I am getting better each time. It's amazing what 12 months off from the game can do. I feel refreshed and ready for whatever lies ahead. There is a lot of cricket coming up and I am feeling ready to take it head on."
The 34-year-old was suspended last February after a test taken on 22 January discovered hydrochlorothiazide and amiloride in his system.
In Warne's absence, Australia's one-day side were in action in Dambulla yesterday and cruised to a comfortable 84-run victory over Sri Lanka.
Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting scored fifties as the world champions piled up a stadium record score of 262 for 6 in their 50 overs, surpassing the 203 for 9 made by Pakistan last year. Sri Lanka subsided to 178 all out in reply.