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Warne's dig at Kent skipper's 'ridiculous' decision

SHANE WARNE: "In my opinion they just handed the championship to Nottinghamshire"
SHANE WARNE: "In my opinion they just handed the championship to Nottinghamshire"

TEST star Shane Warne has hit out at Kent’s run-chase deal with Kiwi Stephen Fleming which the Australian bowling wizard believes gifted the Frizzell Championship title to Nottinghamshire.

Warne, the skipper of one time title-rivals Hampshire, was left outraged at the decision by Kent’s David Fulton to broker a deal with his Nottinghamshire counterpart Fleming for Kent to chase a mammoth 420 runs inside 70 overs at the rate of a run-a-ball.

It was a desperate gamble that Fulton afterwards described as his only chance of remaining in the title race.

Kent's club captain said: "We had to beat Nottinghamshire to stand any chance of taking the title in our last game in Hove, so better a five per cent chance of beating Nottinghamshire than none at all.

"We needed to get off to a good start and without the experience and power hitting of Hall and Kemp in the middle order it was always going to be a huge ask.

"I know some members are bitterly disappointed. But do you just grind the game out for bonus points or give yourself the five per cent chance of staying in the title race by trying to pull off a miracle?

"Had I not gambled in this fashion to win at Guildford, or had we not held out for a miraculous draw against Hampshire then we wouldn’t even have been talking about the title coming into this match.

"They weren’t great odds, but I felt I had to do it."

In the end Kent were dismissed for 205 with almost 18 overs to spare, losing by 214 runs to concede the winners’ pennant to Nottinghamshire ahead of the final round of games.

However, Warne’s Hampshire may have had a chance of stealing the title with a victory over Fleming's side in the last game of the season and Warne is clearly aggrieved at losing his chance of taking the title race to the wire.

Warne said: "I think what happened at Canterbury was very disappointing and I still can’t believe David Fulton agreed to that target.

"I know he had to try and win that game, but had someone offered me the chance to chase 420 from 70 in that situation I’d have said 'no way', and I hope you lose next week as well'.

"I have no problems in setting a game up, but you have to be realistic when you set targets and both sides must have some chance of winning, but Kent were never going to get 420 from 70."

Warne, who scored his maiden first-class century against Kent earlier this season, fumed: "I always believed David to be an intelligent cricketer but that option was quite ridiculous.

"They will try and camouflage the decision by saying 'what else could we do? We had to try and win', but in my opinion they just handed the championship to Nottinghamshire.

"It was on Sky Sports and we were watching it down at Hampshire and were so disappointed by what we saw. I can’t help but think this decision will come back to bite Kent big time."

Fulton did, however, receive praise from former team-mate Mark Ealham, the all-rounder now with Nottinghamshire who pocketed the catch to clinch the Frizzell title for his new county.

Ealham, who described Fulton’s decision as a "brave one", added: "We sat round as a team and talked about David’s offer, a lot of people said we shouldn’t give Kent a sniff of a chance and some wanted to close out the game completely.

"So fair play to the skippers for opening it up I say, after all had Kent have been 100 for none after 25 overs who knows what might have happened.

"After the Ashes the public are interested in cricket again and the last thing viewers would have wanted was to see was a dull championship draw on their televisions."

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