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Cricket: Hegg issues timely reminder

FAVOURITES THEY may be, but bitter memories of a previous long journey back from Southampton will prevent Lancashire from making any assumptions about today's NatWest Trophy semi-final.

With a line-up containing seven members of England's provisional 37-man squad for the World Cup and the prodigious all-round talents of the captain, Wasim Akram, Lancashire are widely expected to reach their 10th final in the 60-overs competition since its inception in 1963. It is a similar situation to seven years ago when Lancashire were drawn away to Hampshire in the second round and again expected to progress only for Robin Smith to hit an unbeaten 79 and steer his side to an eight-wicket victory.

"It's not going to be easy and we all have our minds on what happened in 1991," said the wicketkeeper, Warren Hegg, one of those included in England's one-day plans. "We were favourites then as well but it didn't go well for us.

"That ended up being a bad week for us because a few days later we went down to Worcestershire in the Benson and Hedges Cup final."

Lancashire, though, have built up a steady momentum with victories over Sussex, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire at Old Trafford en route to the last four and are challenging strongly in both the County Championship and AXA League. They are expected to name an unchanged line-up with the England pair of Michael Atherton - despite missing the last day of the Test with a stomach upset - and Andrew Flintoff included while John Crawley should recover from an injured elbow.

Hampshire will recall the all-rounder Kevan James, left out of the AXA League defeat at Canterbury, in place of batsman Matthew Keech.