Cricket: Slater finding his feet again after broken hand

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ENGLAND have denied the cricket public of Horsham the opportunity of witnessing Chris Adams' bitter reunion with Derbyshire today, but the Sussex spectators will instead see a player equally determined to make his mark on this week's Championship encounter.

Adams, the Sussex captain, misses a potentially explosive confrontation with his former county, which he left during the winter following the controversial departure of captain Dean Jones' last season, because of his call-up into England's Texaco Trophy squad.

But while Adams' desire to overcome Derbyshire is motivated by the recriminations and arguments which marked his final season, Michael Slater is equally determined to make his mark.

Brought in as Derbyshire's overseas player following Saeed Anwar's withdrawal with international commitments, the Australian opener suffered a miserable start to his county career by breaking a bone in his left hand during the opening Championship match of the season against Nottinghamshire a month ago.

But a superb 68 from 81 deliveries against Leicestershire in yesterday's AXA victory in only his second innings back has underlined Slater's desire to enjoy a prolific season and cement his place at the top of Australia's order for this winter's Ashes series.

The Championship leaders, Surrey, will have their credentials tested by England withdrawals, which have deprived them of Adam Hollioake, Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe for their trip to Somerset while third-placed Yorkshire must tackle Gloucestershire without their main spearhead, Darren Gough.

Graeme Hick, overlooked for the Texaco series, will be trying to prove a point for Worcestershire against Middlesex at Uxbridge with the Worcestershire coach, Bill Athey, wanting a big improvement after their 103-run AXA defeat by Sussex on Tuesday.

Warwickshire, who moved into fourth place with an innings victory over Derbyshire last week, welcome back their captain, Brian Lara, after he missed their friendly against Oxford University to attend a meeting for international captains at Lord's.

His return against Nottinghamshire will strengthen a Warwickshire line- up deprived of Ashley Giles and Nick Knight, who are on England duty, and Tim Munton, who is still not fit to play his first Championship match of the season.