England are Ashes favourites, Warne says - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

England are Ashes favourites, Warne says

By Valkerie Mangnall 25/09/2006 10:19:33 PM Comments (0)

Australian legspinner Shane Warne believes England is the favourite for the upcoming Ashes series.

Warne was asked to name the front-runner after captaining English county side Hampshire to promotion in the one-day Pro40 league with victory in the division two play-off against Glamorgan on Sunday.

"England will have to be I suppose, they beat us last time," Warne told Sky Sports.

"Coming to Australia is never easy.

"It's an enjoyable tour, it can be tough, all parts of your game get tested - your patience off the field as well. Our crowds are pretty passionate and pretty vocal as well.

"It's going to be a wonderful series. The spirit in which it was played last year was what really captured everyone's imagination.

"It's great cricket, the spirit, the sportsmanship, all those things, I'm sure it will be exactly the same this summer in Australia and whoever is the best side will win, obviously.

"Let's hope it's the same but a different result this year."

England won the Ashes 2-1 at home last year, but has named an injury-hit squad for its defence starting in November.

Warne returns to Australia this week, but not before a knees-up with his Hampshire team-mates.

"We've got a bit of alcohol to drink and just celebrate the season so far and just enjoy the next couple of days," Warne said of his immediate plans.

Warne also led Hampshire to third place in division one of the County Championship.

But he was seething after the final day of the competition descended into farce as Hampshire drew with Lancashire.

Warne was furious with Lancashire skipper Mark Chilton after his reluctance to declare after lunch on the final day.

The Australian proceeded to bowl a series of unorthodox deliveries in protest at Chilton's refusal to make a contest.

Warne bowled a number of bouncers and even resorted to throwing the ball from a standing start in a bizarre 20-minute period after lunch.

"It got to the stage where they were 430 ahead with 60 overs left and still didn't declare, it was ridiculous," Warne said.

"I started throwing lob-ups to see if they wanted any more runs, but that didn't work.

"We did everything we could to get a game, but I was disappointed for the crowd."

Sussex had already won the championship and Lancashire went into the day's play with no danger of slipping from second place, regardless of the result.

Chilton defended his decision and suggested it was Warne's actions that prompted him to bat on.

"After lunch there was a window of opportunity in which we could, and should have perhaps, declared," Chilton said.

"But after Hampshire started throwing the ball 20 feet in the air we decided it would be inappropriate."

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