The Smiths rise to the challenge

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World XI 235-8

Warwickshire 232-6

World XI win by 3 runs

After being on top of the world last summer, Warwickshire were well beaten yesterday in a 50-over challenge match to celebrate both their status as triple champions and the centenary of first class cricket here. Trevor Penney on-drove Shane Warne for six from the penultimate-ball full toss, but with five still needed he managed only a single from a much flatter trajectory.

A crowd of 6,500 ensured that Warwickshire broke even financially, having brought six players from Australia, home of the unofficial world champions, alongside two West Indians, two South Africans and a Zimbabwean.

Warwickshire still did not have that "down under" feeling - they illustrated why they are still a side to watch in a mostly competitive match which was. none the less, curiously low-key in terms of atmosphere under slate- grey skies. Their fielding was admirable and their will was made of iron against a team with talent matching its title.

Neil Smith, deserved winner of the pounds 500 Man of the Match award, cajoled half-century makers Hansie Cronje and Steve Waugh into providing brilliantly- taken catches by Dermot Reeve and Roger Twose, and then helped himself to a 50 of his own from 51 balls. While his benefit collection of pounds 2,580 was being taken, Paul Smith made 37, a valuable contribution to Warwickshire's challenge which meant that 36 was needed from the last four overs with four wickets intact.

The effort was abortive partly because Phil Simmons and Malcolm Marshall had bowled so well. Simmons moved the ball around and Marshall skidded it through with all his old verve.

It was just a pity that Warne was shod in black and white trainers, which seemed borrowed from a 20-overs game on a parks pitch. Warne hardly needs to stand out from the crowd. He does already. Tim May's footwear was not much better: Bondi Beach would have been a better environment for it.

Still, the English are supposed to be dull - just ask David Campese. This match was proof of the premise that without Brian Lara, even triple champions could not take on the world in any contest bordering on the serious. Even so, all credit to Warwickshire for having the ambition to stage it.

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