Warne and Hampshire hit back in sledging saga
Shane Warne has hit back at Chris Adams in the row over his excessive use of sledging during Hampshire's recent County Championship match against Sussex, and has received full and unequivocal backing from his employers as well. Following last week's tense draw at Hove, Adams accused Warne of trying to publicly humiliate the up-and-coming England A wicketkeeper, Matt Prior, and told a Sussex newspaper that he had "lost respect" for the player.
Warne, however, was in no mood to take this slight lying down, and hit back in Wednesday's edition of The Times, saying: "I am sick and tired of being cast as the villain because English captains give one side of the story."
"It was a really good, hard game of cricket," added Warne, "and I was surprised and disappointed that Adams has given a one-sided version of what happened. I do not like getting involved in tit for tat, but I am fed up with copping flak about sledging when there are two sides to the story. If Adams has lost respect for me, then I can certainly say that whatever respect I had for him has disappeared, too."
The incident arose after Prior, who is seen as a dark horse for this summer's Ashes series, collided with Simon Katich in the middle of the pitch. "I wanted to try to get under Prior's skin because of the way he chested Katich on the field," said Warne. "I thought cricket was a noncontact sport. I was sticking up for my mate and letting Prior know what I thought about his behaviour. I think Adams needs to put his own house in order before he goes complaining to the newspapers."
Hampshire County Cricket Club also waded into the row, by issuing a strongly worded statement in defence of Warne on Wednesday afternoon. "We are disappointed that a player of the stature of Chris Adams has made a number of one-sided comments to the media following an excellent, hard fought cricket match between two good sides," read the press release.
"We regard his views as somewhat hypocritical given the way that Chris himself behaved during this match and previous fixtures between Hampshire and Sussex. However, we are not inclined to elaborate on any incident publicly. The match umpires [Merv Kitchen and Ian Gould] are regarded as two of the best in the business and, as far as we are aware, they have not seen fit to censure any player who participated in the fixture."
Hampshire concluded that Warne's stature made him an obvious target for such incitement, and though they added that they had made their views known to the England & Wales Cricket Board, they nonetheless considered the matter closed.