Hants sure Warne will return
Hampshire are confident leg-spinner Shane Warne will see out the remainder of his contract at the Rose Bowl after reports he is set to quit playing for Australia.
Reports from television station Channel Nine have suggested the world’s leading Test wicket taker is set to announce his international retirement.
Warne, the Hampshire captain, has two years to run on his contract at the Rose Bowl and the club fully expect him to complete those.
“He is under contract for a further two years at Hampshire through to September 2008,” said a Hampshire spokesman.
“At this time we anticipate his return to continue his career with here at Hampshire.”
Cricket Australia were remaining tight-lipped amid reports that Warne is about to announce his retirement from international cricket.
It has been reported in Australia that Warne will confirm on Thursday that he will end his illustrious Test career at the end of the current series against England and a take a job in the media.
CA media manager Philip Pope would not confirm if there would be an announcement in the next few days but said: "I'm sure in the fullness of time each and every player upon speculation will let us know what's in their minds."
The record-breaking 37-year-old was expected to continue his career beyond this series - he needs one wicket for 700 in Tests.
But several media outlets, including Channel Nine and Southern Cross radio, have reported he will announce his timetable for departure at a press conference, possibly on Thursday.
That would mean the fifth and final Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground would provide the stage for his swansong, bringing an end to a decorated career which began at the same ground 14 years earlier.
Warne is the leading Test wicket-taker, having taken his total to 699 with five in the Perth Test, where Australia reclaimed up the Ashes.
He has played 143 Tests since his debut in the 1991-92 SCG Test against India.
His brash style made an impact on the Test scene, but it was not until the 1993 Ashes series that Warne was considered world class. His first ball in an Ashes series was a brilliant delivery which bamboozled England`s Mike Gatting in the first Test at Old Trafford.
His best figures came against England in Brisbane in 1994, when he took 8-71 in the first Test of the series.
He seems to have saved his best for England, taking 186 wickets in 34 Tests so far at an average of 23.43, included 40 wickets in the 2005 Ashes series.
Former Australia captain Allan Border was stunned by the news that Warne may be set to end his career.
"He's in superb touch, he's bowling well, physically he's very well. I just got the inkling he was even considering one more tilt at England in England and that would see him out," said Border.
"It's caught everyone by surprise. I suppose there's a lot of innuendo about what the reasons are behind the scenes but just a bit of a state of shock here."
He added: "There was something special about him right from the word go. We just knew there was something about the kid that turned up to bowl leg-spinners.
“Not many of us had seen Shane bowl at all and he'd been through the Academy. He got one for 150 in his first Test match so you wouldn't predict 698 wickets more to his Test career at that point but we knew he had something special and what a career he's had to date."
Warne's possible retirement appears to be news to Australia selector Merv Hughes, who was quoted hours earlier as saying his fellow Victorian could go on for some time.
"Shane Warne could go on and play for another 10 years, nobody knows that except him," Hughes said.