Giddins offered chance to play

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Ed Giddins, banned from first-class cricket on Tuesday until 1 April 1998 by the Test and County Cricket Board for using cocaine, has been offered the chance to continue playing by his former Sussex League club, Eastbourne.

Eastbourne's chairman of selectors, David Lockyer, said: "We would be delighted to have Ed back. I don't think anyone here would have a problem with it. He's got a lot of friends at Eastbourne and some of them will feel very sorry about what has happened."

While Sussex meet North- amptonshire at Hove today, all of the Championship contenders with the exception of Derbyshire are in action elsewhere. James Whitaker returns to captain Leicestershire against Hampshire despite not yet being 100 per cent fit after a torn calf muscle. With Alan Mullally playing for England, Leicestershire are set to use both spinners, Adrian Pierson and Matthew Brimson.

Kent are likely to be unchanged for the trip to Cardiff, but their captain, Steve Marsh, and the England all-rounder Mark Ealham may play in the Sunday League game.

Essex, whose veteran spinner John Childs yesterday announced he is to retire at the end of the season, welcome back Graham Gooch, Paul Grayson and Robert Rollins, all missing from the recent defeat by Pakistan, for the visit of Gloucestershire to Colchester.

Surrey, without England men Alec Stewart, Graham Thorpe and probably Chris Lewis, include Jason Ratcliffe, Nadeem Shahid, Joey Benjamin and the Ireland pace bowler Mark Patterson for the trip to Nottinghamshire.

Yorkshire are expected to name an unchanged side for the Roses match with Lancashire at Headingley. Yorkshire have decided against bringing Michael Bevan, on tour in Sri Lanka with the Australians, back to England for their last two matches.

Warwickshire, still in with a chance of retaining the title, have a doubt over Andy Moles for their local derby with Worcestershire at New Road. The opener has an Achilles tendon injury.