Cornish grit to the fore

Most of Cornwall's part-time cricketers are understandably apprehensive at taking on Warwickshire in today's NatWest Trophy first round - but captain Godfrey Furse is more afraid of what might happen afterwards.

As he looked forward to the St Austell clash, on cricket's equivalent of FA Cup third round day, 35-year-old Furse recalled the horrific aftermath of last year's tie against Middlesex.

Following the 104-run defeat, also at St Austell, Furse, an outdoor caterer, returned to the ground with his girlfriend to pick up his hot dog van. "While I was there I thought I'd have a cup of tea," Furse said. "But as soon as I lit the match, the trailer blew up!

"We were both badly burned - I suffered 25 per cent burns and needed skin grafts. I spent the next four weeks in hospital. Some people were writing me off, but I always thought I'd play again."

A full house of 5,000 is expected today, and the holders may just struggle with a crop of injuries. Captain Dermot Reeve (hip) will have a late fitness test but Warwickshire are definitely without Nick Knight (broken finger), Tim Munton (back) and wicketkeeper Keith Piper, who has a chipped bone in his right hand.

Cornwall also have problems as two players with county experience - the former Essex and Worcestershire batsman Adam Seymour and ex-Durham all- rounder Mark Briers - will be missing due to injury.

Other romantic ties are at March, Carlisle, Sleaford, Aston Rowant and Stone, where minor counties host first-class opposition in what are sure to be festival atmospheres.

Sussex travel to Belfast to meet Ireland, while the Netherlands visit The Oval to play Surrey. There is also a northern battle between Durham and Scotland at Chester-le-Street.

Devon, who are led by the former Somerset captain Peter Roebuck, and have won the Minor Counties Championship for the last two years, take on Essex at Chelmsford.

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