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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 12:35 GMT
Hants play down Wasim link
Wasim Akram
Wasim's swing bowling still rivals the best
English county side Hampshire have played down reports that they want Pakistan all-rounder Wasim Akram to replace Shane Warne for the 2002 season.

Warne was due to captain the side this summer but will instead be serving a one-year ban from the game after failing a drugs test.

The ban was imposed by the Australian Cricket Board after he tested positive for a banned diuretic.

Leg-spinner Warne claimed he was a "victim of anti-doping hysteria" but is now having second thoughts about an appeal against the ban.

"Trying to replace somebody like Shane Warne is going to be extremely difficult," Hampshire's Director of Cricket, Tim Tremlett, told BBC Sport's website.

Asked about the possibility of Wasim joining the club, he said: "We have not made any formal approach (to anyone)."

Talks involving Tremlett, club chairman Rod Bransgrove and new First Team manager Paul Terry about replacing Warne and who should skipper the side are ongoing.

Wasim had a distinguished career in county cricket with Lancashire, playing for the Red Rose club for a decade.

The 36-year-old is currently taking part in his fifth World Cup and is the most successful bowler in the history of one-day cricket with 499 wickets to his credit.

He has also taken 414 and scored 2,898 runs in Test matches.

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