Lancashire, for so long the supreme one-day side, are having difficulty beating their own Club and Ground XI at present and their casualty list today is not reassuring: the captain, Neil Fairbrother, out for a month, is still struggling with a hamstring and two key limited-overs bowlers, Paul Allott and Ian Austin, are being treated for calf and groin strains respectively.
The match with the most implications is at Southampton, where Hampshire meet Kent in a 60- over rehearsal for their 55-over Benson and Hedges final on Saturday. Hampshire retain Bobby Parks as wicketkeeper, although Adrian Aymes is fit again.
That controversial fast bowler Paul Jarvis will lead the Yorkshire attack at Northampton, two days after being reprimanded for swearing on the pitch at Sheffield. Jarvis, playing in only his third Championship match, had a 4 for 7 spell and let fly verbally when an edge from Leicestershire's Paul Nixon skidded through the slips to the boundary. Jarvis squeaked rather than bellowed in exasperation, but it did not sound like 'Dash it. I say, you are a lucky bounder' as friends claimed.
Elsewhere, strains and pains will be expected to disappear under the physio's magic hands this morning as at least 10 of the 18 county clubs will see this competition as their last chance of making something of themselves in 1992. Durham, once feared as giant-killers, can have no greater test of their new status than a visit to Middlesex in their true heartland at Uxbridge.
One of the most intriguing ties is at Edgbaston, where the first 60-over finalists meet, reviving memories of those dear old days of 1964 when Gillette would hand out plastic razors in a desperate attempt to remind spectators of their real business.
The two clubs have met twice in the last 12 years, Sussex winning on both occasions and by the colossal margin of 124 runs at this stage in 1981. Each man of the match today will get a cheque for pounds 1,200 and the winners are assured of pounds 13,500. Humidity, under cloud, will mean that swing is king.
Hampshire's humble heroes,
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