Cricket: Lancashire's showdown at The Oval

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The Independent Online
SURREY'S encounter with Lancashire at The Oval is the undoubted highlight of the Benson and Hedges Cup quarter-finals. Yesterday's draw at Lord's set up an enticing tie which the Surrey chief executive, Paul Sheldon, predicts will be "like another one-day international" in terms of quality and intensity.

"There could be as many as 20 international players on show that day, so it's definitely the tie of the round," Sheldon added.

Alec Stewart, Adam Hollioake, Mike Atherton and Wasim Akram head the cast on 27 May, and Sheldon added: "Lancashire are obviously one of the strongest county sides. But we feel we've improved even on last year because we have more variety in the team and our batting, in particular, is world- class."

Kent, Surrey's victims in last summer's Benson and Hedges Cup final, travel to Leicestershire for another intriguing tie.

Leicestershire's chief executive, David Collier, said: "It's a very attractive match in a very strong last eight."

"We're obviously delighted to have secured a home draw and, with the match in half-term week, there should be a very good crowd."

Yorkshire's captain, David Byas, warned his side against over confidence after they were installed as the new 3-1 favourites. The Tykes have not won a trophy since 1987, but they have been drawn at home to Durham on 27 May - a side they routed by eight wickets in their final group match on Saturday. "I have to be delighted with it, because on paper they're the least dangerous of the sides left in the competition. But there will be no complacency on our part," Byas said.

The other tie is at Lord's between Middlesex and Essex in a repeat of last Thursday's zonal match, which Mark Ramprakash's side won by four wickets. Middlesex's England bowler, Angus Fraser, said: "Our tie with Essex is one of the better ones. We're quite happy."

BENSON AND HEDGES CUP Quarter-final draw: Surrey v Lancashire; Leicestershire v Kent; Yorkshire v Durham; Middlesex v Essex. (Ties to be played Wednesday 27 May).