Cricket: Glamorgan looking to North

As sporting comebacks go, Phil North's return to the Glamorgan squad for today's important Britannic Assurance County Championship encounter against Nottinghamshire at Colwyn Bay is a shade special.

North, a left-arm spinner, played for Glamorgan between 1985-89, and since then has been tucked away in a less arduous class of cricket as the captain of Wales' Minor Counties squad. But the title contenders have brought him back into the fold to replace their young spinning prospect Dean Cosker, who will be on duty for England Under-19s against Zimbabwe at Hove tomorrow.

The clear indication is that the pitch at one of domestic cricket's far flung outposts may be conducive to spin, and thus help Glamorgan return to the top of the Britannic Assurance table. But history is not in favour of results in north Wales - of the nine matches played since Championship cricket began in Colwyn Bay in 1966, Glamorgan have won two, the opposition one and there have been six draws.

With the current front-runners Gloucestershire not playing and only a point in front of Matthew Maynard's men, a change of leadership can be expected by Monday.

Glamorgan will decide before the start if Maynard plays. Their captain has been suffering with chicken pox and is feeling drained, and he changed in isolation for the NatWest Trophy quarter-final against Yorkshire. If Maynard misses out, the 20-year-old Mike Powell, who played in the drawn tour match against the Australians, will step in for Nottinghamshire's first trip to Colwyn Bay.

At Chester-le-Street, 16th-placed Durham entertain the bottom county, Derbyshire, for whom Dominic Cork will not be making his championship comeback. Cork has played two one-day games since a hernia operation six weeks ago but is not in the squad today.

Stewart Edwards, Derbyshire's secretary/general manager, said: "It was never the intention that Dominic would play in the Championship game - but the chances are he will play on Sunday."

NATWEST TROPHY Semi-final draw: Tuesday 12 August: Essex v Glamorgan. Wednesday 13 August: Warwickshire v Sussex.

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