As Shane Warne vows to make amends, former Australian paceman Jeff Thomson says Big Bash League officials have made a mistake in flogging an ''old horse'' and has urged the leg-spin wizard to put an end to suggestions of a Test comeback.
Warne, 43, was terrible in the Melbourne Stars' opening BBL clash on Friday night, an eight-wicket loss to cross-town rivals the Renegades, having 41 runs belted off his only two overs, the worst economy rate recorded in Australian domestic Twenty20.
The Stars captain also dropped South African Faf du Plessis while fielding at mid-wicket on a night batting brute Aaron Finch led his Renegades with an unbeaten 111 off only 65 balls. Warne, as was the case last season, has been used as a major marketing tool, for which he is well reimbursed, and this year has shared the limelight in Melbourne with another retired Test great, Muttiah Muralitharan, playing with the Renegades.
Muralitharan, 40, was also wicketless at Etihad Stadium but was far less expensive in his four overs, finishing with 0-28. Having watched Warne thumped for four sixes, Thomson said it was time for BBL officials to rejig their promotional plans.
''I get sick of this every year - all they talk about is 'Warney' or 'Murali' or someone else,'' he said. ''The Big Bash League, if that's all they have got to promote, they are promoting the wrong people. I am being serious. How long do you flog an old horse?
''You have a bloke like Finch batting out there, Dave Hussey got a 50 [he made 42 off 31 balls] - what's up with that? I am not jealous. Don't get me wrong. You blokes [media] write about [Warne] all the time and that's all he wants to hear. There are other people around.''
Thomson also noted Warne spent most of the evening fielding at mid-wicket. This traditionally has been a key area for orchestrating run-outs in one-day internationals, as Allan Border did so often, and is often a central spot for a captain to marshal his fieldsmen. However, Thomson felt Warne was there for other reasons.
''That's a sign of an older guy as well. You don't want to be running around. You put yourself where you don't have to do the hard yards.''
Asked what impact another heavy pounding would have on Warne's mystique - his aura has intimidated batsmen through the years as much as his pure skill - Thomson replied: ''He is 43. You don't get better. We all dream that we can still do it but it doesn't get any easier.
''These young blokes aren't too bad, especially in Twenty20. It's a bit hard, it's such a quick game. To keep up with that stuff, I honestly think it's a young man's game.''
Thomson also said Australian captain Michael Clarke should end the chatter about a possible Warne Test comeback. Clarke claims he has repeatedly asked his great friend to return to an arena he retired from in 2007. ''It's a backward step,'' Thompson said. ''I get sick of Michael Clarke [saying] 'I want him back'. What about just moving on? [Warne] has had his day. We have to go ahead. What does that do to a young bloke who is trying to get into the side when we are picking 43-year-old blokes?
''This is not jealously. That's why I was having a go at [Ricky] Ponting for the last couple of years. He has been a great player but it's time to go. Look at what happened to him, he stayed another year and batted terribly.''
Warne took to Twitter post-match on Friday to declare he would rebound in time for the Stars' next clash, against the Hobart Hurricanes at the MCG on Saturday. ''Well, that didn't really go to plan, sorry @StarsBBL fans, well played Renegades & @AaronFinch5,'' he wrote. ''We will bounce back & so will I.''
Stars coach Greg Shipperd also endorsed Warne's sentiment. ''I'm sure he's disappointed,'' Shipperd said. ''He'll be back working on his skills and he'll be a different player next game I'm sure. [The pitch] probably didn't turn at all.''