Hampshire v Warwickshire, C&G Final, Lord's September 3, 2005

Udal full of praise for Warne

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"...an awesome man and cricketer," Shaun Udal on the influence Shane Warne has had on Hampshire this season © Getty Images

Shane Warne is having an amazing effect on this summer of cricket. Even when he is not actually on the field, he can inspire a team to victory. As Warne watched his Australian team mates get hammered around Chelmsford, his county side, Hampshire, were grasping their hands on the C&G trophy, their first domestic silverware for 13 years. Shaun Udal, their victorious captain on the day, said Warne had played a major part in getting the county into this position.

"He has already been on the phone," said a delighted Udal at the post-match press conference. "He set the foundations of the club because obviously we were struggling when he arrived - but it is down to him that we are in this position now. He is an awesome man and cricketer."

However, Udal did admit that he was concerned about his teams prospects of victory as Nick Knight and Ian Bell batted Warwickshire into a commanding position. But Bell, who had played a superbly composed innings of 54, suffered from a severe bout of cramp which required treatment, and Hampshire sensed their moment. When Bell chipped to mid-off, Hampshire throttled Warwickshire's innings thanks to the brilliant death bowling of Shane Watson and Andy Bichel - two Aussies who have that winning feeling their national side would love to taste next week.

"I was very concerned at one point," said Udal. "But then the rate started to increase and I thought the cramp that Bell [suffered from] helped us, because it was tough for a new batsman coming in."



Shaun Udal leads the celebrations for Hampshire © Getty Images

Udal was also full of praise for Hampshire's century-maker Sean Ervine, the former Zimbabwean allrounder. Ervine hit 104 - to back-up his match-winning hundred against Yorkshire in the semi-final. Udal said: "He has taken to county cricket like a duck to water. We have promoted him up the order in the Championship and he has responded with half-centuries and now he has hit two centuries in this competition."

Ervine has left Zimbabwean cricket behind and is getting to the stage where he will have to decide where his future lies. He is travelling back to Australia to play for Western Australia this winter but has yet to make up his mind between England and Australia. "At the moment I am just playing cricket but my ambition is to play Test cricket again. I probably have a year or two left to decide on my options but, at the moment, it is edging towards England."

While Ervine and Udal were happy to look to a bright Hampshire future, Knight, Warwickshire's captain, was left to reflect on his fruitless 118 in their chase. Even after his stand with Bell had been broken, victory was still within his team's grasp as he and Jim Troughton carried them past 200.

However, Troughton fell the ball after a lengthy standing ovation, following the announcement on the big screen that Richie Benaud was on his last commentary stint at Lord's. "It's just part of the game, there were a lot of stoppages to today."

However, he did pinpoint Bell's cramp as a key moment in the match, although refused to make excuses. "What is it with these young guys? They are supposed to be fit and train hard," Knight ruefully joked in the press conference. "I started to get a bit of cramp at one point but managed to run it off, but I am a fair bit older than him so I'm allowed to get it."

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo