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Should Warne be replaced at all?

Prem Panicker | February 20, 2003 22:33 IST

Mashrafe Mortaza, the injured Bangladesh seam bowler, is going home. One time captain Akram Khan -- age-wise, another candidate for selection to Dad's Army -- will replace him.

Jonty Rhodes was replaced by Graeme Smith -- again, fair enough, given that he broke his hand on the field of play.

The big question going around, though, is who will replace Shane Warne, now that his B sample has tested positive and it is confirmed that the leg-spinner will take no further part in the Cup.

There is some speculation -- so romantic in tone you can almost hear the violins in the background -- that Steve Waugh will step in. No can do, though -- Waugh senior was not picked by the Aussie selectors in the original squad of 30, from which the squad of 15 has to be picked.

Interestingly, Australia cannot even bring in a leg-spinner for a leg-spinner by having Warne's perpetual spare tire, Stuart McGill, replace him -- McGill, like Waugh, did not find a place in the original squad of 30.

So who will replace the leg-spinner?

A better question would be, should he be replaced at all?

The rules for substitution are pretty clear cut -- you can replace a member of the original squad in the event of injury.

Was Warne injured? Nope. He has been found to take banned substances, he is on the verge of being banned by his own board.

So what substitution are we talking about here?

At one level, given how superbly Australia has put various vicissitudes behind it at the outset of the competition and played like the defending champions they are, it seems churlish to deny them a replacement.

But surely rules are rules? And surely the rules make no provision for replacing a player who, to put it bluntly, stuffed up?

It is going to be interesting to see how the ICC copes with this one -- on the evidence thus far, would it be safe to assume that the global governing body will make a mess of this?

One thing is for sure -- if a replacement is in fact permitted, BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya might have some interesting comments to make, about why and how some teams are more equal than others.

Tailpiece: My colleague Krishna Prasad -- whose eye for on-field happenings is only matched by his other eye, which he keeps firmly fixed on off-field tamasha, came up with this one.

There is, he points out, an advertisement hyping an "official" soft drink that shows Shane Warne walking into a hospital, and strolling down a long corridor.

The first person he sees is Carl Hooper. A little further on, he sees Jonty Rhodes in bed, recovering from something or other. Further on, he bumps into Nasser Hussain, going 'Ouch' over some injury.

Prophetic? Warne is out. Jonty is hors de combat. Hussain has a stiff neck, forcing Alec Stewart to take over captaincy. Carl Hooper is the last man -- only man --  left standing.

This, the word in Rediff goes, could well be an omen -- Hooper to take the Cup, anyone?

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