| Shane Warne leaves a media conference surrounded by security guards in Johannesburg Tuesday. (Reuters)
Johannesburg: Australia Test captain Steve Waugh described Shane Warne’s shock departure from the World Cup on Tuesday as “terrible” news.
“I’m devastated for Shane and for his family,” Steve said, hours after the leg-spinner pulled out of cricket’s showpiece event after failing a drugs test.
“I know how much it meant to him this last one-day tournament,” Steve added. “He wanted to make an impact on the world stage.
“I hope it works out for him because he’s been great for cricket and great for Australian cricket. I personally want to remember all the great things he’s done for the game.”
Despite his great admiration for his former teammate, Steve does not think the loss of Warne will hit Australia’s hopes of retaining the World Cup too hard.
“They have got enough experience to get through and enough quality players to cope and I’m sure they’ll see this as another challenge,” said Steve.
“I’m sure they will try and remain focused on the cricket, react positively and play as they always do, aggressively.”
The 37-year-old Steve said he was ready to fly to South Africa if the selectors decided to call him into the World Cup squad as a replacement.
“I’m still available if needed but, at the moment, my thoughts are just on this terrible news,” Steve said.
Australia’s one-day captain Ricky Ponting said his team will overcome the loss of Warne and make a successful bid to retain the title.
“Yeah, the team was quite shocked to hear it this morning. But we have got the guys to put the situation out of our minds and concentrate on the game.”
Ponting, though, is still hoping that Warne will return to the Cup. “I just hope it’s not for very long as I don’t think he has been ruled out completely. I am hoping he is back with us soon.”
Former teammate Tom Moody jumped to Warne’s defence. “It came as quite a shock because Shane Warne is such a wonderful cricketer,” he said. “I am sure the second sample will prove his innocence.”
Asked if cricketers took performance-enhancing drugs, Moody said: “I don’t even know what these drugs are. I hear Shane’s was for fluid loss or weight loss.
“I know he is a changed man these days and has lost a lot of weight in recent months. He goes through a rigorous fitness regimen. My gut feeling is that he will be cleared soon.”
In Potchefstroom, Shaun Pollock said: “I don’t think it detracts from the World Cup at all. “He’s a big factor and a popular person, but there are a lot of great cricketers out here.”