Cricket: Runs all round for Brown and Lewis

AS ENGLAND'S cricket hierarchy continued to reflect on their poor showing in Sharjah, two one-day specialists who missed out on World Cup selection were making their point ferociously yesterday.

At Chelmsford, Chris Lewis scored his first century for five years in a demonstration of power and timing, while fellow all-rounder Dougie Brown went further by creating history with his maiden first-class century.

His effort for Warwickshire against Northamptonshire at Edgbaston was the earliest in County Championship history, owing much to the fact the season has been brought forward because of next month's international showpiece tournament. "I am not trying to prove any points - but if anyone is short of form or injuries I want to make a situation where the selectors don't have to look much further than me when seeking a replacement," Brown said.

Or, alternatively, they could look to Lewis. He made 139 while wicketkeeper Paul Nixon underlined his growing reputation with a classy 121 as the defending county champions Leicestershire took control of their game against Essex.

Lewis left it to the county's manager, Jack Birkenshaw, to blow his trumpet. "He has immense talent whether he is batting, bowling or fielding. I can understand why people find it a little surprising that he has not scored more runs. Perhaps it is because he is prepared to take risks," Birkenshaw said. "But he said before the start of this season he was more determined than ever to score more heavily than he has been doing. This is a good start."

Nixon's 121 was his second in consecutive championship games following his 101 not out in the final match against Surrey last September. "There is no better wicketkeeper- batsman in the country," said Birkenshaw.

Elsewhere the weather again played its part. Durham's frozen players were only able to move from 32 for 1 to 153 for 4 to lead Worcestershire by just one run after three days at Chester-le-Street, while play was washed out at Old Trafford between Lancashire and Sussex.

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