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Warne mum on ‘private matter’

Melbourne: Shane Warne, buried under sexual harassment allegations, made a surprise return to training on Tuesday.

The leg-spinner, who has kept out of public eye since allegations began surfacing over a week ago, appeared at the Victorian state team practice at the invitation of coach David Hookes.

He bowled to some of his younger teammates in the nets. But the 33-year-old declined to speak afterwards to the media. “It’s a private matter. I’ve got nothing more to say,” he said.

South African national Helen Cohen Alon has claimed she was offered 200,000 rand ($28,000) in a string of threatening phone calls and text messages by an associate of Warne to keep quiet about their relationship.

Hookes said Warne appeared happy at the practice session and did not discuss the allegations.

“He was happy, he was upbeat, he did a bit of bowling which I didn’t think he was going to do. The session was a cricket environment, so we just left it at cricket.”

Cohen Alon, 45, plans to come to Australia next week to take a polygraph test live during a Gold Coast radio station’s broadcast that she says will prove allegations that Warne bombarded her with lurid text messages after she met him during last year’s Australian tour of South Africa.

With leg-spinner Stuart MacGill performing well, there has been speculation that the country’s highest Test wicket-taker will struggle to regain his place in the national team when his suspension expires next February.

Warne is midway through a one-year playing ban after testing positive to diuretics, although he is able to practice with his teammates.

The latest controversy in Warne’s eventful career follows an admission in August 2000 that he made lewd calls to a nurse while playing county cricket in England.

Warne received support on Tuesday from Australian pacer Glenn McGrath.

“Shane’s a good friend of ours, as is Simone his wife and family, so you hate to see a good friend going through this. We can just let them know that they’ve got our support and we’ll see how things go from there.”

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