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As a Lancastrian-in-exile, it's only fair that I should recommend a visit to Lord's this weekend, where Middlesex are the hosts for a County Championship and Sunday League double header. Lancashire have had a few problems in recent years, generally of their own making. This season, under a new captain, Mike Watkinson, they have reason to be hopeful, and a few who purport to know about these things are saying they may be on for the championship.

There's Michael Atherton, always value for money, forming a handsome opening clutch with John Crawley, Neil Fairbrother and Jason Gallian, while the bowling department features, among others, Wasim Akram and the future England man, Glen Chapple (taking another wicket, right). They come to St John's Wood off a six-wicket win over the triple champions, Warwickshire, on a roll of eight consecutive victories in all competitions.

With Mark Ramprakash averaging 102, Middlesex are speeding along themselves, standing at fourth in the table, a couple of places above Lancashire. It would be dangerous to write off their chances of restoring the old home county's hegemony this year after last summer's ransacking by the hicks from the sticks.

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