Lancashire shorn of their best players

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The Independent Online
Berkshire are likely to be disappointed if they are hoping to face Lancashire's international players in today's NatWest Trophy first- round match at Old Trafford.

Wasim Akram, Jason Gallian and Mike Watkinson have all been ruled out with injuries, and Neil Fairbrother is doubtful with a thigh strain. However, Michael Atherton will captain the side in Watkinson's absence.

Derbyshire, in turmoil following the departure of their captain, Dean Jones, face a potentially tricky trip to Lindum to face Lincolnshire. The all-rounder Matthew Vandrau is included in the squad along with the 21-year-old off-spinner Simon Lacey. Lincolnshire's captain, Mark Fell, who played for Derbyshire in 1985, leads a side that includes the former Nottinghamshire players Russell Evans and Jonathan Wileman.

Ireland, who claimed a shock victory over Middlesex in the Benson and Hedges Cup this season, travel to Headingley to meet Yorkshire. Decker Currie, whose 75 was a major factor in their victory over Middlesex, returns to compensate for the departure of the South African captain, Hansie Cronje.

Scotland take on Gloucestershire in front of the television cameras having warmed up by competing in the Costcutter Cup at Scarborough alongside Yorkshire and Durham recently.

The only two all first-class ties take place at Lord's, where Kent will face Middlesex, and The Oval for Surrey's match against an ever-improving Durham side.

The all-rounder Mark Ealham returns to the Kent side at Lord's, having played there in the second Test over the past five days, while Graham Cowdrey will have to test on a hamstring strain suffered while fielding during yesterday's match against Durham.

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