Cricket: It's wet, wet, wet

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The Independent Online
It Was exactly the same twelve months ago, and in many years past. Forget the witch doctors and the rain makers, the only reliable way to end Britain's now-traditional winter drought is a full County Championship programme. On Friday afternoon Mark Lathwell and Richard Harden inaugurated Somerset's card school at the Oval, and yesterday new pasteboard decks were broken open throughout the country.

Trent Bridge remained waterlogged, and what had been a nicely poised contest on Thursday evening ended damply with visitors Worcester taking eight points, and the hosts five. Tim Curtis's century and Mark Bowen's five for 99 were the outstanding individual rewards.

The waterlogged outfield at Cardiff was particularly frustrating to the home side, who had been outplaying Warwickshire. The double centurion Hugh Morris is pronounced fit after his frightening argument with an Allan Donald bouncer, but the Warwickshire skipper Tim Munton's back injury keeps him sidelined.

Only nine overs were possible at Hove yesterday, where Sussex seemed ready to put winter upheavals behind them in an impressive display against Northants. Keith Newell's hundred and Yorkshire exile Mark Robinson's six wickets were the hosts' compensations.

The counties are now looking to today's AXA Life League to kick-start the season, though the forecast remains gloomy. The reigning champions Surrey lead one-day cricket into a new era by letting it be known that in future they should be addressed as Surrey Lions. Children's attractions, rock music, pitch-side interviews and all the other innovations pioneered by Johnny Foreigner arrive in south London (weather permitting). This season will also see the first day-night matches, at the Oval, Hove and Edgbaston.

The weather was kinder in Colombo, where Aravinda de Silva contributed an undefeated 101 to Sri Lanka's 281-7, in the second and final Test against Pakistan. The visitors took wickets when de Silva wasn't facing, though - five in the afternoon session - and Saqlain's 3 for 93 in 34 overs was the best return.

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