Mat
Larkin writes
:

Shane Warne is an incorrigible flirt. Sure,
sometimes it can get a bit icky, and the middle part of this sentence could
easily be crammed with any number of familiar jokes to prove it, but when it
comes to teasing the cricket-watching public, the boy can put it out there.

Last night’s press conference had it all:
the mystifying little beard, the I-just-stuck-my-head-out-of-the-car-window
hair and best of all, a series of coquettish hints that maybe, just maybe,
Warney will return to one-day cricket for the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.

There are 421 days to go until the World
Cup, but Warne doesn’t have that long to make up his mind. The squad is due to
be announced in October, and although he could just about walk into the team
then if he wanted to wait, he knows that he’ll be expected to play one, and
ideally two, one-day series before then to keep the whole thing above board.

That leaves open the possibility of a
return in the home series against the Proteas and Sri Lanka starting Friday. He knows this. And he
knows we know it.

What if he does go to the Caribbean? Who would he keep out of the team? Stuart
MacGill hasn’t played a one-dayer since 2000, so it would be a choice between
Brad Hogg, who’ll be 36 by then, and 21-year-old wunderkind Dan Cullen. If he
lives up to the hype this year, expect to see Cullen under Shane’s big wing at Sabina Park and Kensington Oval.

Warne’s one-day average in the West Indies is just under 27, almost as good as his
career average of 25.73, and although he hasn’t turned out in the yellow dacks
in two years, his Test form must leave him sorely tempted. Much more tempting will
be the chance to blot out all memories of the last World Cup, when he left in
disgrace before the first game after failing a drug test and watched his team
mates bring home the Cup without him.

So he can bat his eyelashes all he likes – Warney
will be back. And he knows we know it.