Cricket: Bedfordshire prepare to contain Lara and the rest

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The Independent Online
THE year's busiest day, with 16 NatWest Trophy first-round matches, will be a new experience for Brian Lara but the expectation his exploits have created will not end just because the competition's highest score is Alvin Kallicharran's 206, writes Richard Wetherell. At least he need not endure the 'charms' of a non-county ground as Warwickshire entertain Bedfordshire at Edgbaston.

Bedfordshire have the usual 'humorous' noises about Lara being a bit nervous approaching 370 but they have to bear in mind that Warwickshire won last year's final by scoring 322 for 5 against Sussex without Lara.

'We've got to follow the old maxim of line and length and if there is a mistake, hopefully we'll make the most of it,' Philip Hoare, the Bedfordshire captain, said.

Another West Indian, if less celebrated, comes face to face with Graeme Hick as Norfolk's hope against Worcestershire. John Maynard dismissed him for a duck on the winter tour and in the same over got Graham Thorpe out.

Two other England players return to action after injury. Andy Caddick for Somerset to face Oxfordshire, his shoulder deemed fit, and Allan Lamb who is back to captain Northamptonshire on his 40th birthday after two weeks' out with a hamstring injury.

The first round is time for saying 'I wondered what happened to him' as the old pros bolster the Minor Counties ranks. Roll up, roll up Geoff Miller (Derbyshire, Essex and England) now of Cheshire, who play Durham, all-rounders Eldine Baptiste (Kent and West Indies) and Steve O'Shaughnessy (Lancashire) who line up for Cumberland against Leicestershire while Peter Roebuck (Somerset) captains Devon against Yorkshire.