Cricket: Lara misses champions' last match: County Championship

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

BRIAN LARA has closed his Warwickshire championship account for the season with 2,066 runs from 15 matches.

After spending a few days at home in Trinidad, the double world record holder is rested for the County champions' final match, against Gloucestershire at Bristol today.

But Lara will be back to sign off on Sunday when Warwickshire attempt to complete the treble by taking the AXA Equity and Law League title.

Gladstone Small also takes a rest, but Warwickshire's captain, Dermot Reeve, expects to make his first four-day appearance for more than a month.

Gloucestershire include the left-arm seamer Mike Smith, who is likely to replace one of the spinners, Viv Pike or Martyn Ball.

The West Indian fast bowler Cameron Cuffy and England's Joey Benjamin are both fit to return for Surrey against Kent at The Oval.

Cuffy has recovered from a chest infection while Benjamin suffered a knock on the head during practice, forcing him to miss the last Championship game, against Yorkshire.

Steve Marsh will lead Kent in place of Mark Benson, while Neil Taylor replaces Carl Hooper, who is rested. Tim Wren continues in place of Alan Igglesden, who has a back injury.

The former England left-arm spinner John Childs is back in the Essex squad to face Northamptonshire at Chelmsford. The batsman Jonathan Lewis is also included.

Another left-arm spinner, Darren Flint, has been added to Hampshire's squad for the game with Glamorgan at Southampton. Flint, who has not played for four months, is joined by the more experienced Raj Maru.

Alan Mullally, the Leicestershire pace bowler, is hopeful of passing a fitness test before the match with Lancashire at Old Trafford which could ensure Leicestershire of runners-up spot.

Mullally missed Leicestershire's win over Hampshire owing to a foot injury, and if he recovers in time he will replace Jonathan Dakin.

Keith Newell, one of three young players given two-year contracts by Sussex, may make his first class debut against Yorkshire at Hove.

Neil Mallender, who has to prove his fitness before Somerset offer him a new contract, is in the squad against Derbyshire at Taunton. The 33-year-old former England seamer's benefit season has been plagued by injuries; he has missed half the Championship season.

Somerset's chief executive, Peter Anderson, says medical evidence will be needed to prove that Mallender will be fit for next season.

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