Stan Hey: 6-5 against

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The Independent Online

Sleet, rain, chilly winds – you don't have to be a weather forecaster to realise that an English cricket season must be upon us. But are we looking at the last one as we know it? The temptations of the mega-dollar Indian Premier League and the continued absence of anything resembling a crowd in county cricket are factors for change.

Time, then, for Lancashire to get weaving and win the County Championship, before it becomes a series of day-night contests. They haven't won in my lifetime – and I remember seeing Ken Higgs and Geoff Pullar play. Last season they went heroically close – set 489 to win by Surrey on the last day they fell 24 runs short of the victory that would have lifted them above Sussex.

They will be without Muttiah Muralitharan but they have a hard-core of old pros and a sprinkling of young talent which could flourish under Stuart Law. Sussex (5-1, William Hill) will be a threat, and certainly Durham (9-2, Ladbrokes), once the South African opener Neil McKenzie and West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul arrive. But the tenner goes on Lancashire (4-1, Coral).

In Division Two, Worcestershire have a strong batting line-up and if they can keep the River Severn off their ground they can make promotion; £10 win at 7-1, Blue Square. The Twenty20 should be at the mercy of Durham; £5 win at 9-1, totesport.

Last week's wagers

Comply or Die delivered a Grand National profit of £52.50, which would have been more had I backed Bewley's Berry with a bookie paying on fifth place (£10 lost). Cornish Sett got round, Black Apalachi fell – another tenner gone. In the rugby, Gloucester were monstered by Munster, so £10 went west.

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