Kent's deal hurt spirit of the game, says Warne

Hampshire 424-4 Nottinghamshire

Match abandoned at 73 mins
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The Independent Online

Fulton and the Nottinghamshire captain, Stephen Fleming, agreed that Kent would declare their first innings 100 runs away from avoiding the follow-on, and after some cafeteria bowling, Fulton and his men were left with an improbable victory target of 420 runs off 70 overs. Kent fell well short and victory was enough to make Notting-hamshire champions.

"I am all for trying to win every game," said Warne, the Hampshire captain, who had anticipated a title showdown between the teams he regarded as the best in the Championship this weekend. "But 420 off 70 overs leaves you with absolutely no chance. And there's got to be a chance to win. You don't just hand someone the Championship. I think that's against the spirit of the game and I think that is bringing the game into disrepute. I know David Fulton did not have many options, but there is a line to be drawn between silliness and bravery and that was ridiculous.

"It's put a real dampener on a great week to finish off the summer. I think that decision will come back to bite Fulton, to haunt him. You don't like to sledge other players but that was just stupid, that's more dumb than brave. I hope someone does something about it."

Alan Fordham, the England and Wales Cricket Operations manager, revealed yesterday that Hampshire had phoned Lord's on Saturday on learning of the Canterbury compact between the two captains. And the ECB reassured them that everything was above board. The strongest comment that Tim Tremlett, Hampshire's director of cricket, would make about the turn of events was: "It is a shame it has finished like this."

Yesterday John Crawley had the perfect riposte by passing 150 for the 16th time in his career on the day he celebrated his 34th birthday. It was a dogged innings, but this, his second century and highest score at the Rose Bowl encapsulated the whole team's approach to this match. There was a steely, remorseless quality to Crawley's innings

During the course of it he passed 1,000 runs in a season for the ninth time, making this his best season in the County Championship since 1998, and this, the 46th century of his career and third of the summer, has gone a long way to helping Hampshire into the driving seat.

Crawley survived a chance on 28, but he went on to share in three significant stands during the long day, the best of which was the 162 for the fourth wicket with the South African Jono McLean, having earlier added 97 with Jimmy Adams for the second wicket and 83 with Simon Katich for the third.

It went a long way to ensuring that Hampshire's challenge for second place and the £40,000 on offer for runners-up spot would remain on course, thanks to the maximum batting points they acquired during the day.

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