Melbourne: Shane Warne on Wednesday apologised to Australia Test skipper Michael Clarke after comments about a possible dramatic return for next year's Ashes series against England sparked a media frenzy. "Sorry @MClarke23 if you woke up to calls!!!! See you soon buddy," he tweeted to the skipper, a close friend.
The 43-year-old legspinner, regarded as one of the game's greatest players, quit Tests in 2007 but captained the Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals for four years, winning the inaugural tournament in 2008.
Now preparing for another season in Australia's Big Bash League with the Melbourne Stars, he told News Limited newspapers that he had "absolutely no doubt" he could bowl successfully at Test level again.
Warne said that if Clarke suggested his services were needed after the Test team's recent bowling struggles against South Africa, he would give it some serious thought.
"If your best friend says, 'Mate, I want you to seriously consider making a commitment to Australian cricket and coming back out of retirement', (to) make myself available for selection, that's a different scenario," Warne said.
"From a purely bowling perspective, I don't think my form would be the concern, it's just the time and actually making that commitment again."
But with Australian media buzzing about a possible return, Warne, who remains Australia's highest ever wicket-taker with 708 Test scalps, took to Twitter to hose down the speculation.
"Clarification guys & thankyou for the kind words, but... I was asked 'could' I play not 'would' I play. yes, I could. didn't say I would!," he tweeted. In a second tweet, he added: "It was a hypothetical question re if Michael Clarke asked me. Read my quotes 'I'm not asking Michael to ask me' Hope I didn't disappoint!"
The speculation saw Warne's fiancee Liz Hurley, the English model and actress, take to Twitter to give her opinion. "Hmmm....good question re who would I support if @warne888 played in the Ashes," she said.
"I think I'd want @warne888 to bowl brilliantly but be let down by all his Aussie team mates so England won but he was Man of Every Match." Australia play five Ashes Tests against England in July and August next year, desperate to win after suffering back-to-back series defeats against their oldest rival.