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Come back, spinner: Warnie, please make Friday's farce a one-off

Date

Lee Gaskin

Monday's Expert

Shane Warne had a rough time in the Big Bash opener, posting bowling figures of 0-41 from 2.2 overs.

Shane Warne had a rough time in the Big Bash opener, posting bowling figures of 0-41 from 2.2 overs. Photo: Getty Images

Say it ain't so, Warnie. Convince us Friday night's Big Bash League shocker was an aberration, a one-off mistake that like Mark Bosnich's ridiculous rug, can be swept under the carpet and forgotten about.

Better yet, Shane, don't tell us. Show us. Show the Australian cricketing public that at age 43, that magic wrist can still deceive batsman the world over the way it once did and shouldn't be lifting a champagne glass next to Liz Hurley in the corporate suite.

Everyone's entitled to an off night, so we should cut the greatest leg-spinner in the game's history a bit of slack for the carnage that was the Aaron Finch show.

Finch obviously misread the script when he arrived at Etihad Stadium, treating Warne with utter disdain. Ball after ball rocketed off his bat and were deposited just as quickly into the 23,000-strong crowd.

Warne's figures were the stuff of nightmares - 0-41 from only 14 deliveries, the worst economy rate recorded in Australian Twenty20 cricket.

To top it all off, Warne butchered an easy catch in the covers, impossible to imagine for one of the surest pairs of hands in the slip cordon in his pomp.

After making headlines around the country with speculation of a glorious Ashes comeback, you can bet the competitive spirit deep inside Warne will rise up and ensure he gets back among the wickets.

He's too talented not to.

Sure, the leggie doesn't have the bite it once had, and the zooter has slowed down to the point it can be timed with a sundial, but the ''hit or get out'' nature of Twenty20 works sharply in his favour. At the Test level, not so much.

Batsmen can take their time, pace an innings with authority and pick off the loose balls without taking excessive risks. That's where Nathan Lyon has excelled in his brief career. The no-frills off-spinner has adapted effectively to whatever role Michael Clarke needs him to play.

When there's an opportunity to attack, Lyon has the courage to toss the ball high, slow down his pace and encourage the wild shot.

But when the key is to hold up an end while the pacemen do their thing, he's shown an ability to do that as well by dropping the ball on a dime time and time again with clockwork regularity.

At his peak, Warne possessed all those elements, plus other weapons in his arsenal that Lyon could only dream of.

One of the saddest sights is seeing a champion taint his legacy by playing on too long.

Ricky Ponting made the right call to go when he did, as did Warne when he pulled the pin on his illustrious Test career in 2007.

Yet watching Indian icon Sachin Tendulkar drift off into a shadow of his former self shows he should have stepped aside a year or two ago.

I hope Warnie can produce flashes of his best for the Melbourne Stars and spark memories of his stunning Mike Gatting ball of the century from 1993. Just don't put your house on him doing the same on English soil next year.

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