Cricket World Cup 2015

Warne still spinning CWC headlines

2015-02-23 10:01
Shane Warne (AFP)

Sydney - From blokeish TV commentary to controversial jibes at the present day Australian team to flogging boxer shorts on his Instagram account, it's hard to ignore Shane Warne at the Cricket World Cup.

The master leg-spinner, who retired from international cricket in 2007 with over 1 000 wickets in Tests and one-day internationals, is rarely far from the headlines.

The 45-year-old has been at the centre of almost daily criticism of the Australian team, accusing officials of trying to "break" close friend, and national captain, Michael Clarke by rushing him back from his long-standing injury.

Coach Darren Lehmann, a team-mate of Warne's when Australia won the 1999 World Cup, described the comments as "absolute rubbish".

Clarke, however, raced to the defence of his friend.

"I have always supported Warney, he's a big supporter of mine and is a good friend," said Clarke, whose planned return to the team was delayed when Saturday's game against Bangladesh in Brisbane was washed out.

"I think Shane might have been taken out of context. I think what he was trying to say was the medical staff have pushed me to the limit, which is a great thing."

Despite Clarke attempting to play a forward defensive stroke for the sake of team unity, Warne was soon back on the attack.

Over the weekend, as the four-time champions kicked their heels before their next match against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday, Warne accused Lehmann of trying to usurp the authority of the captain.

He suggested it was Lehmann who had decided when Australia declared against India in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, when Steve Smith was standing in for Clarke.

"He's got to be a little bit careful - he's got to stop walking out on the MCG and declaring," Warne said on radio station 2GB.

"He's got to remember that that's the captain's job and not the coach's job."

But Smith denied that Lehmann had too much influence and insisted he had decided when to declare, not the coach.

"I think 'Boof' (Lehmann) was sitting on the sideline where he tends to sit to watch the match," Smith said.

"I was up the top trying to call the guys in but they couldn't see me. I think he said 'look up there, he's calling you in'. I think they showed him on the TV doing it but I was up the top calling them in - it was me."

Cricket Australia, the game's governing body in the country, has refused to get dragged into the row, attributing the controversies to Warne's outspoken nature.

When he's not acting as an ad-hoc team selector at the six-week tournament, Warne is making a name for himself up in the TV commentary booth with off-the-cuff, blokeish asides.

"He looks like he's swallowed a couple of wheelie bins," was Warne's description of a former adversary who is not as slender as he once was in his playing days.

Meanwhile, on everyday things to dislike: "Third new ball...queuing...holding hands.."

The World Cup has also provided Warne with the chance to market his new range of black, boxer shorts with the word SPINNERS emblazoned on the waistband.

"Bad boy," is his confident description of his branded underwear.

Lehmann, Smith and Cricket Australia may be thinking the same about Warne.

Read more on:    cwc 2015  |  shane warne  |  cricket

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