Cricket: England pair in doubt

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The Independent Online
IF IT WAS simply a case of form, there would not have been much in it, but Warwickshire were never going to drop Brian Lara from today's NatWest quarter-finals.

Instead it is Asif Din, Man of the Match in last year's final with a stunning century, who makes way for Andy Moles in today's tie with Somerset at Taunton.

Moles, despite his reputation as a slow scorer, has scored so heavily since returning to the Championship side after illness and injury that he could not be left out. And, although he has only passed 50 twice in one-day games, neither could Lara.

With Gladstone Small, Paul Smith and Dermot Reeve all fit enough to play, Warwickshire are at full strength and seeking to reduce further the 14-1 odds against them sweeping all four trophies. It would have been a good bet back in April: then the same prospect was priced at 8,567-1.

The other three ties each feature teams whose April optimism has long since been dissipated. Kent, Northamptonshire and Glamorgan each began the season with high expectations. Defeat for any of them today and it will effectively be over.

Kent, perhaps the least fortunate having lost on a bowl- out to Warwickshire in the Benson and Hedges quarter- finals, will be encouraged by a recent improvement in form.

However, like Somerset, they travelled last night after a long day in the field and will only discover this morning whether the Derby wicket will suit their slow left-armer, Min Patel. For a change the seamers Alan Igglesden, Martin McCague and Dean Headley are all available. Derbyshire hope to include Chris Adams despite a cut hand, while Devon Malcolm has recovered from a stomach upset.

If Northamptonshire are to revive their season they will have to become the first side to win a one-day match at Worcester this season. Paul Taylor has a fitness test on a thigh injury, but they definitely include Alan Fordham after appendicitis.

Worcestershire, the beaten Benson and Hedges Cup finalists, pick from a full squad with Adam Seymour and Philip Weston contesting the opening spot alongside Tim Curtis.

Glamorgan, last year's semi- finalists and Sunday League winners, have their key all- rounder, Adrian Dale, back for the home tie with Surrey. The visitors, still narrowly leading the Championship, might yet pull off a NatWest-Championship double, but Warwickshire have to falter first.