Injury hiccup for Hick

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The Independent Online
Worcs 193 and 161-7

Middlesex 393

GRAEME HICK'S place in England's one-day international squad to meet the West Indies, to be announced on Friday, is in danger. An X- ray yesterday confirmed he has a broken finger. He will not play for his county when they face the tourists here on Tuesday but said, in what sounded like a message to Ray Illingworth: "I would play in a Championship match." Hick's bowling has been restrained by a convalescent back. If hands and back are less than 100 per cent, he is unlikely to be able to fill his specialist slip position and his value would be consequently diminished.

Worcestershire needed Hickyesterday. Gavin Haynes, with bruised ribs, and Tom Moody, another with a back strain, are also unable to bowl. Unseasonal hard surfaces and sudden temperature variations are making the talk of reducing staff to a mandatory 18 sound silly. All this might be described as putting a brave face on another Worcestershire defeat. Only a brave sixth-wicket stand of 87 in 17 overs between Tom Moody and Stuart Lampitt saved them from an earlier demise.

Middlesex's last six wickets extended their lead to 200, despite evidence of a deteriorating pitch offering spin and variable bounce. Keith Brown swashed and buckled until 99, when he waved once too often, while Phil Newport, with five wickets, demonstrated what could be won from the pitch. The Middlesex seamers watched and then ripped into Worcestershire.

At 55 for 5 the match appeared over, but Moody counter-attacked so vigorously, taking 50 off 70 balls, that he inspired Lampitt. Mark Feltham then dealt such decisive blows that only a Severn flood can prevent the inevitable tomorrow, although Moody remains defiant on 82.