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Saturday, June 12, 1999 Published at 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK

Waugh: Leave Shane alone

Shane Warne: "I am happy with my form in the tournament overall"

Australian spinner, Shane Warne, could quit the game because of constant media criticism, according to captain Steve Waugh.

Speaking before the World Cup Super Six game against South Africa on Sunday, Waugh said: "Shane's under a lot of pressure and is copping a lot of stick from back home in the press.

"I'm really not sure what people want from him. If they want to try and take the guy down and lose one of Australia's greatest-ever cricketers, they're going the right way about it."

[ image: Steve Waugh has asked the media to leave Warne alone]
Steve Waugh has asked the media to leave Warne alone
Warne, long regarded as the world's best spinner, has been struggling in the World Cup. He was thrashed for 48 runs by India off 6.2 overs and for 55 in nine overs by Zimbabwe, with Neil Johnson hitting four fours off one over.

The Australian has taken 10 wickets in the tournament, but against the Test-playing teams, his record is six for 209, at an unimpressive economy rate of 4.6 an over.

It comes at the end of a troubled period for the player. He was dropped from the Test team for the first time in seven years and admitted accepting money from a bookmaker for pitch information.

He also missed six months following shoulder surgery, and many critics say he has yet to rediscover his best form.

"He's taken a few things personally, " Waugh said. "And it's hard not to. He realises he's in the public eye and he's big news all the time, but sometimes you can destroy a guy if you go too far."

Writing in The Times newspaper on Saturday, Warne said his form should be put into context.

"Neil Johnson decided to have a go. Fair play to the guy, he batted brilliantly," he said.

"Even between 1992 and 1996, my golden years, I copped the odd time in one-day cricket.

"I know there are more golden years ahead - I am happy with my form in the tournament overall."

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