Headley may be out for the season

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The Independent Online

It never rains but it pours. The bright new dawn of central England contracts, designed to ensure that Test players are in prime shape to revive fortunes on the international stage, had its enthusiastic reception further dampened as Dean Head-ley became the second con- tracted player within 24 hours to be ruled out of the First Test against Zimbabwe at Lord's.

It never rains but it pours. The bright new dawn of central England contracts, designed to ensure that Test players are in prime shape to revive fortunes on the international stage, had its enthusiastic reception further dampened as Dean Head-ley became the second con- tracted player within 24 hours to be ruled out of the First Test against Zimbabwe at Lord's.

While a broken finger will sideline Yorkshire's Michael Vaughan for three to four weeks, the Kent paceman will undergo spinal surgery on 15 May and could be out for three to four months. He suffered a recurrence of a back injury in training three weeks ago and the spinal specialist John Webb broke the bad news on Friday.

Headley was selected for England's tour of South Africa last winter but he managed just 10 balls in the pipe opener at Randjesfontein last November before he was forced to return home. "The problem is that it is in the same area as in the winter, so it's obviously a worry because it could be connected," said the 30-year-old. "I felt fine bowling in the nets for a month pre-season and this happens. It's all very frustrating."

The most adventurous selection, Lancashire's 21-year-old leg-spinner Chris Schofield, came closer to earning a first cap as Leicestershire lost by an innings and 25 runs at Old Trafford in the Championship's First Division. The visitors resumed on 155 for 6 yesterday, needing 69 to make Lancashire bat again, and Schofield had Vince Wells caught at slip, then bowled Anil Kumble and had Neil Burns stumped. He ended up with 4 for 82 to add to his innings of 66 the day before.

"He is a superb wicket-taker but he is still in the apprentice-ship stages of his career," said Lancashire's new coach, Bob Simpson, who used to handle none other than a young Shane Warne when he was in charge of Australia. "It's some years, back in 1993 we think, that we had such an early win in the season. It was very necessary because we haven't played a lot of cricket so far and until this game the cricket we'd played wasn't very good." Lancashire have not won the Champion-ship since 1934 but were runners-up in the last two seasons.

In the National League, Surrey posted a total of 230 for 7 against Durham at Chester-le-Street, Alec Stewart contrib-uting 41 and Ben Hollioake 42, while the bustling seamer Neil Killeen took 3 for 37. In reply, Durham had reached 38 for 1 after 11 overs.

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