Ward puts Warne in the shade

Australia 390 and 294-8 dec MCC 124 and 280 Australia win by 280 runs
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The Independent Online

It has been an unhappy match for Justin Langer. The Australian suffered a double failure against a makeshift MCC side and then had injury added to insult when he was hit halfway up his right forearm after taking the full force of a pull-sweep shot by Jimmy Adams.

It happened not long before tea, with the Australians pressing hard for the last four wickets. Langer left the field and a spokesman for the tourists said later that the Western Australian was shaken by the blow and had gone for a lie-down, but he was expected to be fit for the match against Essex starting tomorrow.

Even without Langer, the Australians, who had declared overnight when they were 560 runs to the good, cruised home with almost 20 overs to spare. However, the scratch side put up far more of a fight in their second innings, especially David Ward, the hard-hitting former Surrey middle-order batsman. If the crowd had arrived expecting a tame rollover, they were quickly disabused when Ward strode on, first wicket down.

It is five years since the genial Ward left The Oval, but he has lost none of his enthusiasm and, judging by the contemptuous way he handled Shane Warne, the timing is still there, as is the ability to hit big.

Ward has long been a crowd-pleaser and he did not disappoint yesterday in a brutal exhibition of attacking batsmanship. He smashed 18 runs – one six and three fours – off one over of Warne's leg spin on the way to a breathtaking 61-ball half-century.

Ward later revealed he had played in the same midweek team as Warne in Melbourne 13 years ago. "It was a team called the Plastics and Warney was probably about 15 at the time," recalled Ward, who is now 40.

"Today was the first time we have ever come head-to-head and at one point Warne asked me if the trees were far enough away. There was some good banter out there."

Ward now plays for Hertfordshire, but he had to give the minor county's big day against Worcestershire in the C&G Trophy a miss. "You can't turn down an invitation like this," said Ward, who regularly turns out for MCC. "The Herts lads were disappointed but it was one of those of those situations."

Warne eventually got his revenge when Ward hammered a ball low and hard to cover where Steve Waugh took a stinging catch. The Australia captain was left wringing his hands in pain.

By then though, Ward had reached 57, which included two sixes and nine fours, and had got the sizeable crowd going. It also seemed to lift the rest of the MCC team. First, the Pakistan Test player, Shahid Afridi, cracked 28 off 14 balls, including three sixes and two fours. Then Adams went on to make an unbeaten 81 as he ensured the crowd – according to the organisers more than 12,000 attended over three days – got its money's worth.