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Warne named despite injury

By Will Swanton 31/12/2002 07:15:40 PM Comments (0)

Shane Warne is so important to Australia's World Cup cricket defence that he may be given until mid-tournament to recover from his dislocated shoulder.

Warne was on Tuesday named in an Australian squad most notable for the inclusion of "numb" and "delighted" Queensland allrounder Andrew Symonds, chosen on the basis of explosive potential and fielding brilliance rather than form.

Coach John Buchanan revealed Warne - man of the match in Australia's Cup final victory over Pakistan at Lord's in 1999 - could be given until the Super Sixes stage to make his first appearance in southern Africa.

Australia should progress through the preliminary rounds in February before the serious business of the Super Sixes begins on March 7, when Warne's rehabilitation should be well and truly over.

"We're certainly looking at making a decision (on Warne's fitness) as early as feasible - but giving him as much time as possible," Buchanan said.

"He's one of the bowlers we will always go to to bowl us ten overs in a one-day game. We're going to try to make sure he gets every opportunity to be on that plane across to South Africa."

Asked if Warne could be given until the Super Sixes, Buchanan said: "That's certainly one of the considerations.

"If he wasn't available from the outset, we would like to think he was playing at least by mid-tournament, that's my view. In a general sense, that's probably a cut-off."

The obvious problem for Warne is waiting too long and being too rusty by the time he gets on the field.

"He'd certainly be wanting to be as confident as he can going into some of the tougher games," Buchanan said.

"That confidence is not just in bowling, but also getting around the field."

Warne hung around the Australian dressing room during the Boxing Day Test with his arm in a sling.

He gave World Cup captain Ricky Ponting every cause for optimism and expects to be told on January 11 or 12 when he can start bowling again.

"He seems pretty upbeat about it all and likes his chances of playing in the World Cup, so that's great," Ponting said.

"Obviously Australia needs Shane Warne to be playing and playing well in the World Cup. Everyone's just got their fingers crossed and hopes that he comes up."

Australia will be joined in Pool A by Pakistan, India, the Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Namibia and England, with the first three sides progressing.

The Super Sixes are followed by the semi-finals on March 18 and 20 at Port Elizabeth and Durban before the decider on March 23 at the Wanderers, Johannesburg.

Buchanan said Australia's biggest threat wouldn't be in Pool A - or Pool B.

"I think always it's ourselves," he said.

"That's not arrogance in any way, shape or form, but it's a realisation that we can play extremely well.

"We all have reasonably high expectations of ourselves."

The last of Symonds' 49 limited overs matches for Australia was against Kenya in September - a tour he made only as a replacement for an injured Darren Lehmann.

Despite being able to hit the cover off the ball and bowl respectable medium pace and/or off-spin, Symonds' international career has been ordinary so far.

He averages 25.86 with the bat and 30.97 with the ball, but all will be forgiven if he comes off at the World Cup. He's an exceptional fieldsman in any position.

"I'm numb, to be honest with you," Symonds said.

"Only being able to take 15 and Australian cricket's got so much to offer, I really do feel for other blokes.

"But at the same time ... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said Symonds now had the chance to apply pressure to first-choice but still raw allrounder Shane Watson.

The three doubtful positions in the 15-man squad went to Symonds, Queensland batsman Jimmy Maher and West Australian batsman and wrist spinner Brad Hogg, joining Australia's stock 12 players from the opening three tri-series games.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist (vice-capt), Michael Bevan, Andy Bichel, Jason Gillespie, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Darren Lehmann, Jimmy Maher, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds, Shane Warne, Shane Watson.

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