Leg-spin legend Shane Warne is adamant he could return to test cricket on a whim and still excel, were it not for his family priorities trumping cricket.
''If you asked me, 'Can I come out and play a test match tomorrow?' I'd have absolutely no doubt I could rip them out of the rough and turn them square, all that sort of stuff,'' Warne said. ''But playing international cricket is a huge commitment.
''Playing Twenty20 is a different commitment. You're only bowling 24 deliveries, sometimes you might only bowl eight, sometimes 12. It depends on what the game needs. You don't have to be prepared as you do for a test match, to bowl 60 overs in a match. That would test my fitness if I ever had to do that again, which is highly unlikely.''
Warne said he would consider coming out of retirement to play in next year's Ashes series against England if asked by Australian captain Michael Clarke.
The 43-year-old leg spinner said he was happily retired but would consider a comeback if his country needed him.
"If your best friend says 'mate, I want you to seriously consider making a commitment to Australian cricket and coming back out of retirement'," he might do so.
He said while watching Australia lose the third test to South Africa in Perth this week "I felt like I wanted to jump off the couch and grab the ball."
Warne's unconventional preparation for this year's T20 tournament, training in wintry conditions in Europe and also India during a television commentary stint before arriving in Melbourne late last week, has not stopped him from declaring he has been bowling better than he had at any time since his test retirement almost six years ago, if not longer.
''People say, 'You're bowling that well, why don't you play for Australia again?'. I say, 'If I've got a test match in two weeks' time I have absolutely no doubt that I could come out and rip 'em and be effective and do pretty well, but that's a commitment to Australian cricket again'. That's a different thing to being committed to the Melbourne Stars. I'm committed to that now and I'm trying to do the best job I can.''
The Stars captain insisted his current proficiency could not be compared to his international career, particularly the degree of turn for his deliveries, based on the way he bowled last season for the Stars nor the way he will bowl this season, due to the restrictive necessities of T20 cricket.
''It's not about bowling your best ball, a perfectly shaped leggie that drifts in and spins a lot - that's a ball that goes for six. It's about bowling a scungy, slow, wide or a fast, straight one or a leggie that's pitched outside leg,'' he said after an encouraging intra-club performance for the Stars at the MCG.
''Twenty20 is a different beast, a different animal. It's not about bowling all those great deliveries, it's all about just being effective.''
Warne now divides his time between Melbourne, home of his three children, and London, the primary home of his actress fiancee Elizabeth Hurley and her son.
He said the main reason he agreed to play the complete Big Bash League season for the Stars was his confidence he could do so without compromising his family responsibilities. Those responsibilities are also the reason a return to international cricket is off his agenda.
''I don't see cricket as a job, cricket is always a hobby to me. My job is trying to be the best parent I possibly can to my children ... and I'm doing pretty good with that, I love being a father. This is a hobby.
''I'm passionate and I love the game of cricket, and the reason I got involved last year was to pass on my knowledge and help out Australian cricket as much as I could. I thought I did it OK last year, I'm trying to do it again this year.''
Warne's BBL season for the Stars, the team he now leads, begins on Friday night at Etihad Stadium against Melbourne Renegades. The Renegades boast the only player to have taken more test wickets than him, Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan.
- With AP
- The Age