Cricket: All-clear for eager Warne

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Shane Warne has won the reluctant blessing of the Australian Cricket Board to play in England next year. The Test leg-spinner is attracting interest from Northamptonshire, Sussex and Nottinghamshire, with promises of captaincy and a contract believed to be worth around pounds 200,000.

Denis Rogers, the ACB chairman, said it would be unfair to stop Warne from fulfilling his ambition to play in the Championship, although he admitted the board was concerned about how the 27-year-old may fare in such an arduous season. Warneand will make his decision next week.

English cricket, meanwhile, is stepping up its campaign to free home Test matches from a BBC monopoly in the belief that the game needs a new television deal that could net around pounds 120m. Lord's estimates that more than pounds 300,000 has to be found if the necessary upgrading of facilities and the issue of player development is to be funded properly.

Terry Blake, the marketing director of the England and Wales Board, is lobbying Chris Smith, the Government's culture minister, for the de-listing of home Tests. Smith is expected by December to announce the results of his review procedure concerning the eight current listed events, such as the FA Cup final, the Derby and the Grand National.

Zimbabwe played themselves into the dominant position in the first Test against New Zealand at Harare Sports Club yesterday. When bad light stopped play 70 minutes before the close of the second day's play, the home side had reduced the Kiwis to 91 for 3 in the first innings, still 207 behind. Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand captain, had earlier taken two of the last three catches to finish with five, equalling the record for the most catches in a Test innings by non-wicketkeepers.

Second day

ZIMBABWE - First innings

(Overnight 205 for 4)

G W Flower c Parore b Cairns 104

D L Houghton lbw b Davis 23

P A Strang c Fleming b Davis 42

H H Streak c Fleming b Cairns 0

J A Rennie c Fleming b Davis 22

B C Strang lbw b Cairns 1

A Huckle not out 0

Extras (b1 lb5 nb14 w4) 24

Total 298

Fall (cont): 5-214 6-244 7-244 8-295 9-298.

Bowling: O'Connor 26-1-104-1; Davis 20-0-57-3; Cairns 28.1-9-50-5; Astle 23-12-40-1; Vettori 4-0-14-0; Harris 13-5-27-0.

NEW ZEALAND - First Innings

C M Spearman c Campbell b B Strang 23

B A Pocock run out 21

M J Horne c Whittall b Streak 24

*S P Fleming not out 20

N J Astle not out 2

Extras (lb1) 1

Total (for 3) 91

Fall: 1-44 2-44 3-89.

To bat: C L Cairns, A C Parore, C Z Harris, D L Vettori, S B O'Connor, H T Davis.

Bowling (to date): Streak 11-0-24-1; J Rennie 8-1-32-0; B Strang 10-4- 19-1; P Strang 7-1-16-0.