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Warne lends support to Aussies

Australia turned to their all-time record wicket-taker Shane Warne for inspiration as they seek to keep their Ashes hopes alive in Manchester this week.

Warne joined the tourists during their final practice session at Emirates Old Trafford before the third Investec Test, where anything but victory will end Australian hopes of regaining the urn.

Warne delivered the so-called 'Ball of the Century' at this venue 20 years ago to make his Ashes mark and his countrymen appear in need of similar wizardry if they are to fulfil skipper Michael Clarke's bold belief they can yet leave England victorious.

The 43-year-old former leg-spinner spoke for 20 minutes with slow bowlers Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar - either if not both in contention to play on a pitch expected to take spin - before speaking at length and bowling to Clarke.

Afterwards Warne, who retired in 2007 with a then world-record 708 Test wickets, was coy regarding the content of their conversations but did echo Clarke's assertion that Australia could yet win the series.

"I think they can (win the series)," he said. "I think they will go into this Test match like they think they can too.

"The conditions here are quite unique. They are a bit different to what you get everywhere else.

"I think this sort of wicket will (produce) a result as long as it doesn't rain all the time.

"I think Australia are a good chance and if it is 2-1 going to Durham, where anything can happen up there, they're back in the series.

"If everyone thinks they have no chance then they have every chance. Hopefully you guys keep laughing and keep thinking Australia have no chance because then they might win."

Speaking about his conversation with Clarke, who has yet to fire in the series so far, he added: "I was just bowling and talking to him about the way he was batting against the spinners.

"He's one of the best players in the world, if not the best player of spin in the world. I don't think I could teach him anything about playing spin.

"It was more or less reassuring him and telling him he looks good."

Warne did admit that Australia could be tempted to play two spinners in the Test after England called up Monty Panesar alongside Graeme Swann in their 14-man squad.

"When you come to Old Trafford two spinners is always an option," he said.

"These guys want to see the wicket tomorrow so I have no idea what the team will be or anything like that. Whether they go with that who knows?"

Australia employed another former great, Glenn McGrath, to speak to the squad before the 347-run humbling at Lord's and Warne said he would be available to the team whenever they deemed it appropriate.

"Anytime. (Coach) Darren Lehmann is one of my best friends. Michael Clarke is my best friend," he said.

"You've got the coach and captain so I'm sure there will be other times when I come down and help out the spinners or come down and have a chat.

"As an ex-Australia cricketer all of us want to see the Australian team do well. We all support them and if we are asked to come and help we will.

"McGrath was there the other week trying to help. We're just trying to do our bit because we want to see Australian cricket do well."

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