Melbourne: Shane Warne continues to make front page news in Australia as he reaches the halfway mark of a 12-month doping ban that has ruled him out of international cricket until February next year.
Test cricket’s second-leading wicket taker was only last week telling World Anti-Doping Agency chairman Dick Pound to mind his own business.
Canada’s Pound had said it was “against the spirit of the game” for Cricket Australia to allow Warne, who had tested positive for a banned diuretic, to play charity matches and train with the national team during his suspension.
By Sunday, the world’s most successful leg spinner was making headlines again, this time in South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper as Johannesburg mother of three, Helen Cohen Alon, 45, accused Warne of inundating her with raunchy phone messages.
Later on Sunday, Warne’s brother and manager Jason released a statement saying: “We regard the allegations of the South African woman Helen Cohen Alon as a personal issue between Shane, (wife) Simone and the relevant parties.”
Melbourne’s The Age said in a front-page headline on Monday: “Warne hits back at woman’s claims of raunchy phone messages.”
Melbourne tabloid the Herald Sun ran a headline saying: “Shane slow to deny new sex claims”.
The paper said Warne had done some fine charity work this year since his suspension in February. But it added: “(Warne) hired a public relations firm to help rebuild his shattered public image. Now this.
“If Warne is innocent, his public relations men could have done a better job for him yesterday by declaring his innocence in direct terms.”
The Australian newspaper ran a front-page headline saying: “Warne accused of “text sex” harassment”.
The Australian Associated Press (AAP) called for the world’s top-ranked team to sack Warne, saying: “Not only is Shane Warne a liability off the field, he is no longer a necessity on it.”
However, Warne’s Victoria state coach David Hookes defended the 33-year-old who has taken 491 wickets in 107 Tests and bowled Australia to victory in the 1999 World Cup final.
“What he does in his private life is his own problem. He’s got his wife and his three kids to deal with. Whether he’s been careless or not, they will make that judgement,” Hookes said.