Cricket: Warne put in the shade

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If a prerequisite of English success against the Australians this summer is to wound Shane Warne at the earliest opportunity then a major pyschological blow may have been struck at Headingley yesterday.

To draw first blood in an Ashes summer would itself have brought satisfaction enough for Mike Atherton's reshaped side. To have done so and seen off the legendary leg-spinner meant double the pleasure for a joyful England dressing-room.

The match-winning partnership between Graham Thorpe and Adam Hollioake left Warne to reflect on the rare experience of an attempt to weave his particular magic that ended without reward. Even his customary economy deserted him as the two Surrey batsmen plundered 46 runs from his 10 overs. The experience of the left-handed Thorpe will be a key weapon against Warne this summer but the success of Hollioake, who took the man of the match award, was especially encouraging given the 25-year-old Surrey captain's scanty experience of international cricket.

"I started a bit nervously but Thorpey gave me confidence," Hollioake said. "It helped to have him at the other end because we have a good understanding with running between the wickets."

Not even the distraction of suddenly spotting his parents, John and Daria, on the giant television replay screen failed to put Hollioake off his stroke. The couple had flown from their home in Perth, Australia, to watch their son in action.

"I had not had chance to see them before the game started and it was only through my brother, Ben, that I knew they had turned up safely. I was just watching a shot I had played when I saw them on the screen."

Atherton said: "I thought we played the first half of the game superbly, bowling the ball in the right place and backing it up with some aggressive fielding. Then Adam and Graham finished the job. There was not a lot of confidence in us around the country before this game and it is up to us now to get everyone behind us."

Mark Taylor, the Australia captain, conceded that Warne was "rusty", in common with the rest of his side. "England simply batted, bowled and fielded better and with more passion than we did," he said. "We are still finding our feet in this country and the conditions are a little cool, but I don't like to make excuses. We have a lot of things to put right."

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