Warne will not let Australia down by rushing return to action

By Paul Short
Wednesday 18 December 2002 01:00

Shane Warne has promised he will not play in the World Cup unless he has completely recovered from his dislocated shoulder. The leg-spinner sustained the injury playing in Australia's emphatic 89-run triangular series victory over England on Sunday. He dived to his right, but fell awkwardly on his elbow, jarring his shoulder on which he had reconstructive surgery four years ago to prolong his career.

Greg Hoy, a Melbourne specialist, ruled out Warne for four to six weeks after performing exploratory surgery on Monday. Although Warne will miss the remainder of the Ashes series, he should make their first World Cup game against Pakistan on 11 February. But he said: "One thing I won't be doing is letting my team down by playing if I'm not 100 per cent.

"If I have learnt anything from my past injuries, it is to not come back too early. I am going to make sure that I am right."

Warne's right shoulder needed complete reconstruction in 1998 and while this injury was unrelated, the world's second-highest Test wicket-taker said he was disappointed by the timing after working so hard to get himself fit again. "I've been on a fitness campaign the last 12 months and been as fit as I've ever been, and bowling probably better than I ever have," he said. "But there are a lot worse things in the world at the moment than me with a dodgy shoulder."

It was feared that anything other than what is termed as a "clean dislocation" would have instantly ruled out Warne of the World Cup in South Africa. The 33-year-old was man of the match in the semi-final and final in the last World Cup in 1999.

However, the Australian Cricket Board do not have to take as big a gamble on his fitness as they might have following Monday's decision from the International Cricket Council to change the rules regarding squads for their showpiece event in February. Countries will now be able to replace injured players after the 31 December deadline for the naming of squads.

The news is not only a major boost for Australia, but also England, who have concerns over the fitness of Andy Flintoff and Ashley Giles after they were sent home from Australia with injuries.

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