Warne starts with bang in Hampshire pursuit of glory

Hampshire 350 Glamorgan 13-1

And after Hampshire were bowled out for 350 in their first innings he displayed nothing of the fatigue he suffered at the Oval and during the past few months as Glamorgan finished last night on 13-1. A win at Sophia Gardens and a bit of statistical fortune could still see Hampshire, 23.5 points adrift of the leaders, Nottinghamshire, before this round of games, dip under the First Division tape ahead of the favourites.

Much depends, of course, on Kent's resilience at Canterbury, because if Nottinghamshire win there today then Warne will have to settle for runners-up spot for the second time in the space of six days.

At least after his Ashes heartache Warne won something yesterday morning, and calling correctly at the toss he had no hesitation in batting first in a match which was already a day short because of Thursday's wash-out.

Warne would have probably preferred a little more urgency from his batsmen, despite Jimmy Adams and Jono McLean's foundation-making half centuries, on a slow Sophia Gardens pitch.

Because his top order only travelled watchfully at no more than three runs an over during the first two sessions. No doubt they were initially rather wary of the same pitch on which they had been dismissed for only 69 in Tuesday night's totesport League match.

But, with the groundsman Len Smith having shaved much of the grass off, there seemed little in it for the same Glamorgan seamers.

It was another vanquished Australian, Simon Katich, who showed he had not been too scarred by a losing Ashes experience. Batting with a bruised rib, a legacy of fielding at short leg at the Oval on Monday, Katich showed better form than his Ashes contribution of 249 runs at 27.

Katich, obviously in some pain, passed 50 for the fourth time for Hampshire this season before the need for quicker runs was his undoing. That brought Warne to the middle. Immediately, he made his presence felt, and that is something he will almost certainly do this weekend. You just cannot keep a good man down.

* Durham made heavy weather of trying to secure the draw against Northamptonshire which will secure promotion. They slipped to 115 for 6 before Gareth Breese and Liam Plunkett took them to 171 for 6 at the close. On their final day of Championship action today, Durham still need 93 to avoid the follow-on. If they fail to gain four batting points and lose it will leave the door ajar for Northamptonshire to edge them out of promotion by taking maximum points at home to Yorkshire next week.

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