Cricket: Warne warning for England: Clinical tourists record fourth win

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Australians. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .323-3 dec and 88-4 dec

Leicestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . .168-7 dec and 146

Australians win by 97 runs

THE AUSTRALIANS defeated Leicestershire in comfort at Grace Road yesterday, their fourth success in five games against the counties. It was all done with clinical efficiency, if not quite in the way the tourists envisaged when they won the toss and probably had the best of a pitch that later showed signs of wear and tear.

The new ball appeared to go through the top on at least a couple of occasions and, one way and another, it was probably not too surprising that Leicestershire subsided to 146 all out in 55 overs.

The tourists probably had more problems with another blustery wind than Leicestershire's uneven batting and, indeed, uncertainty about the weather was doubtless one of the factors that prompted the captains to get their heads together first thing.

So, instead of Leicestershire, mindful of the Australians' keenness to get their hands on pounds 50,000 from the sponsors for winning 10 games, grinding their way past the follow-on and chipping out every available run, Nigel Briers declared 155 behind in the knowledge that he would be batting before lunchtime with a target of no more than 250.

After the bat had been flung by Michael Slater and an assortment of lower-order partners, this proved to be 244 in a minimum of 72 overs. An afternoon of excitement seemed on the cards if only Leicestershire could get a start, but it eluded them.

With the clouds higher and even the sun sometimes present, batting against the new ball seemed less complicated than earlier until Briers met an awkward one from Craig McDermott, which lobbed to gully, while Tim Boon was adjudged lbw. Leicestershire knew then something remarkable was needed.

It never materialised. James Whitaker hinted at a return to form until the lively left-armer, Brendon Julian, tucked him up and had him caught off a top-edged hook, leaving Phil Robinson and Ben Smith to rebuild the innings as best they could.

They did so for a time, with Smith's neat footwork keeping him out of trouble against the spinners and Robinson seizing on anything that gave him the room to cut until he was undone by Shane Warne, bowled behind his legs sweeping.

Smith batted well enough to suggest that anything was possible if someone stayed with him, which only made the running-out of Peter Hepworth, after his composed first-innings display, the most regrettable of all Leicestershire's lapses. After nicking Warne between wicketkeeper and slip, he failed to make his ground going for a third.

Smith then became the 100th victim of Warne's short first-class career after an ugly smear across the line which was out of character with his earlier batting. The rest belonged comfortably to Warne and Tim May, even though they would have realised that not even England will provide such easy fodder at Old Trafford.

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