Red rose in full bloom for the summer

CRICKET 1995: After a long wait, Lancashire could be on the threshold of a golden era.
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The relevant figures are £55,000 and £1m. The first represents the sponsor's prize for winning the County Championship, the second is what that amount really ought to be.

This is no criticism of the sponsors, Britannic Assurance, which has been good friends to cricket for a decade. Nor does £55,000 comprise all the benefits and increments that evolve from winning the pennant. But in the days when a journeyman footballer can cost £2m the rewards offered for winning domestic cricket's greatest prize, as opposed to the kudos and cash for winning the one-day competitions, give English cricket a serious and debilitating imbalance.

There are moves, as reported in The Independent last week, to alter the whole structure of the domestic game and put the money, £60m from television alone in the next four years, in the right places, including higher pay for the players. The Test Match Counties Advisory Committee report, due shortly, seems likely to provide interesting and controversial reading.

But politics, to the average cricket follower, are pretty boring and what this summer is promising is some exciting and competitive cricket, not least because the groundsmen, after two years, are coming to terms with the requirements of four-day cricket.

Peter Marron, at Old Trafford, was fortunate in that his square was already being progressively re-laid when the three-day formula was changed and he now believes his pitches will give a fair balance to bat and ball, some help for the seamers at the start and some wear for the spinners later.

Batsman need the confidence of facing an even bounce and although the 25-point penalties for inferior pitches have been unpopular they have also eliminated terror tracks.

Given fair conditions the game should prosper and indeed the evidence is, despite the tidal wave of criticism of the England team's performances, that below that level it is in fine shape.

County membership reached its highest level for 14 years in 1994. Championship attendances were up by 17 per cent, Sunday League by 19 per cent - a 44 per cent rise on 1992. Four counties, Hampshire, Sussex, Warwickshire (not surprisingly) and Yorkshire doubled their number of paying customers.

County cricket will be shorn of its leading West Indians, but there are some newer names among the overseas professionals who will bring in the crowds: Michael Bevan, Yorkshire's Canberra cyclone, the South Africans Hansie Cronje at Leicestershire and Daryl Cullinan at Derbyshire; Zimbabwe's Heath Streak at Hampshire and the brilliant all-rounder Aravinda de Silva at Kent.

The AXA Equity and Law Sunday League will show new and more restrained uniforms, with a basic white shirt, which should have been insisted upon from the first. Why cannot the players all wear white flannels?

The influence of television continues to grow. This year, Cornhill Test matches, NatWest Trophy and some Sunday League matches will be seen live on the BBC; Sky will show Texaco Trophy, Benson and Hedges Cup and Sunday League live, both channels will show evening highlights on all four competitions and Sky will also provide next-morning highlights. ITV? Who are they?

Sky will use its new "spin vision" camera, one of the most fascinating innovations in televised cricket in which the ball leaving the bowler's hand can be seen so clearly the direction of the spin is obvious to the audience if not the batsmen.

Indeed, for the first time many millions will be able to see the ball as Ranji is supposed to have done. He was reputed to be able to see not only the way the ball was spinning but the stitches in the seam.

Sky will also use a radar gun to indicate on screen the respective speeds of fast bowlers.

To finish with, a few shots in the dark for the new season: Lancashire will win their first outright Championship since 1934. Warwickshire and Yorkshire will win one-day competitions. Durham will make some spectacular advances and their new professional Manoj Prabhakar will be a famous name by August.

A new era in English seam bowling will begin with the arrival in full of Richard Johnson and Glen Chapple. Spinners will increase their share of wickets as captains use them more often. Enjoy your cricket.

DERBYSHIRE

Kim Barnett's last summer as captain will not be easy. The loss in successive summers of John Morris and Peter Bowler, the retirement of Ole Mortensen, the release of Richard Sladdin and finally, the departure of Mohammed Azharuddin and Matt Vandrau leave a team who finished 17th considerably weakened.

With six Test matches, Derbyshire could also face the prolonged absence of Devon Malcolm, Phil DeFreitas and possibly Dominic Cork, which means that Barnett could be left with a drastically reduced strike-force.

South Africa's Daryll Cullinan has to fill a huge gap although Barnett remains optimistic about the batting, believing that Chris Adams and Tim O'Gorman will continue to advance. He is also confident of an improved team spirit: "I know from experience that attitude and professionalism can make up for a lot."

Derbyshire are hoping to add to the staff and now that the financial situation is greatly improved under new chairman Mike Horton, the opportunity for long- term reconstruction is there. Derbyshire will still be a force in limited overs and a Lord's final would be one indication that Barnett's planning for his successor is succeeding and give a proper finale to one of the club's greatest captaincies.

Last year: BAC: 17. NWT: Last eight. B&H: Last eight. SL: 8

In: D Cullinan, J Owen, P Aldred.

Out: M Azharuddin, P Bowler, D Lovell, O Mortensen, A Richardson, R Sladdin, M Vandrau.

DURHAM

Durham's fourth first-class summer will be one of major changes. Their new Test-sized ground at Chester-le-Street, Riverside, is now in full use, there are four major signings and seven departures. Durham's days as gypsy mercernaries are all but over.

There is also a new captain, Mike Roseberry, returning home after a decade with Middlesex and a new overseas professional, the accomplished Indian all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar, for whom Brian Lara had to deputise when injury caused a cancellation of his Warwickshire contract last season.

The batting looks strong and, in Durham's tradition, adventurous. Prabhakar and Simon Brown form a sharp opening attack and the spin department has been substantially reinforced by the arrival of James Boiling, once an England A off-spinner. A former England under-19 off-spinner, Jason Searle, is in reserve.

Durham will aso have a mix of experience and promise in reserve from Wayne Larkins to Mel Betts and have been warned by director Geoff Cook that fielding standards will have to be improved on a more spacious playing area. Head groundsman Tom Flintoft is promising a surface of the highest class, in keeping with Durham's ambition to stage Test matches at Riverside.

BAC: 16. NWT: 2nd round. B&H: 1st round. SL: 9

In: M. Roseberry, J Boiling, D Ligertwood, M Prabhakar.

Out: D Graveney, G Fowler, P Berry, A Fothergill, P Henderson, I Smith, G Wigham.

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

Two salient facts confront the county of the Graces: last year's one-day record was the worst in England and this summer they will be without their great fast bowler and captain Courtney Walsh, who will be with the West Indies.

The silver lining is the climb to mid-table respectability in the Championship and the arrival of two unsung players whose contributions might be significant. The new overseas professional is India's fast-medium bowler, Javagal Srinath, who is reputed to have a wicked outswinger and much stamina while Andrew Symonds, who batted so well for Queensland against England last winter, is English-qualified (Birmingham-born) and comes bearing a useful off- break as well.

Chris Broad has been forced to retire after hip trouble, but his experience will be replaced in mid-order by Surrey's Monte Lynch, a player whose spiritual home may have always been in the west.

Jack Russell is the new captain, Dean Hodgson is fully fit again and Alleyene, Hancock, Dawson, Windows and Cunliffe should between them contribute enough runs to consolidate the county's advance in first-clas cricket. The Cheltenham Festival will include a one-day clash with Australia A, during which Symonds will confront some of his old mates from the Australian Academy. G'day Andy, you Pommy bastard.

BAC: 12. NWT: 1st round. B&H:1st round. SL: 18.

In: J Srinath, A Symonds, M Lynch, D Boden, J Whitby-Coles.

Out: C Broad, A Babington, S Hinks, R Wight.

HAMPSHIRE

Never was a fast bowler more destined for headlines than Heath Streak. He is the sub-editor's friend with a surname that fits beautifully into a single column and one that can be manipulated into a million punning headlines. What a gift!

The 21-year-old Zimbabwean has also taken 43 wickets in his nine Test matches to date. His arrival will match, and may even surpass, those of Andy Roberts and Malcolm Marshall in terms of anticipation. With Norman Cowans, Cardigan Connor, Kevan James and John Stephenson in support, Hampshire have once again a seam attack that will be met with trepidation.

Stephenson, a former England opening batsman and useful seam bowler recruited from Essex, is the other major reinforcement to a team who must surely improve upon last season's disappointments.

The spin is both experienced and subtle, thanks to Raj Maru (left-arm) and Shaun Udal (off-spin) while a return to fitness and form by Robin Smith could electrify the batting order.

Hampshire are also giving year-long trials to several young players and those same sub-editors will also be waiting for one more name to make his expected impact on the first-class game: Liam Botham, now 17.

BAC: 13. NWT: 2nd round. B&H: Semi-final. SL: 12.

In: H Streak, J Stephenson.

Out: W Benjamin, M Jean-Jacques.

LEICESTERSHIRE

After a surpringly successful 1994 the Running Fox is in full stride again. Hansie Cronje, joining his brother-in-law Gordon Parsons, is the new overseas professional and his Test-match expertise, technique and experience butresses an inconsistent batting order.

Part of Leicestershire's rise in the Championship can be attributed to the quicker pitches at Grace Road, a long-sought improvement by the seam bowlers, and also to one of the more significant debuts of last summer - that of Alamgir Sheriyar, the Birmingham-born left-arm fast bowler of Afghan origin, who began his senior career with a hat-trick against Durham.

Sheriyar, 21, will back up David Millns and Alan Mullally in an impressive fast attack which was well supported last year by the slower but craftier bowling of Parsons and Vince Wells. Jack Birkenshaw, cricket manager at least until 1998, would like a top-class spinner and will hope that Adrian Peirson improves on last season, as should the left-armer Matthew Brimson.

Paul Nixon could become an England wicketkeeper shortly, Ben Smith is expected to emerge as an England batsman in waiting and the young player most often mentioned is Darren Maddy, who scored almost 1,500 runs in the Second XI champonship.

BAC: 2. NWT: 2nd round. B&H: 2nd round. SL: 10.

In: S Bartle, A Ditta, H Cronje, C Crowe, C Durant.

Out: B Fourie, P Hepworth, P Simmons, I Stanger.

MIDDLESEX

Despite being without almost the whole first-choice attack for much of last summer, Middlesex still managed to finish fourth, a tribute to Mike Gatting's always resilient leadership.

The difference this year will come in the reappearance on a regular basis of Chas Taylor, Richard Johnson and Phil Tufnell and the arrival of Dion Nash, who promises to be extremely effective in English conditions. Neil Williams has departed, but with Angus Fraser fit and eager again, John Emburey still available and Paul Weekes advancing, the bowling looks capable of another assault on the Championship - unless the selectors become too demanding.

The batting is another matter. Gatting and John Carr both had exceptional seasons - anyone looking at Carr's figures, if not his stance, might have thought Bradman was back - but elsewhere fallibility reigned. Mike Roseberry has left for Durham and Desmond Haynes is likely to be touring so the order will have to be recast. Mark Ramprakash, who blossomed as England A's vice-captain in India, may come into full flower.

Don Bennett has high hopes for some of the second-team prospects and one or two new names will appear. What is certain is that Gatting will want to improve on his eight trophies in 11 years as captain and go out in glory.

BAC: 4. NWT: 2nd round. B&H: 2nd round. SL: 14

In: D Nash, D Follet, A Khan, U Rashid, O Shah.

Out: D Haynes, N Williams.

SOMERSET

Somerset's inconsistency in 1994 was reflected in the "transfer list" with nine players leaving, including such stalwarts as Neil Mallender, now back at Northamptonshire, and Nick Folland, who resumes his teaching career.

There are only two newcomers, but both are experienced - Peter Bowler who, with Kim Barnett, formed Derbyshire's most successful opening partnership, and Jeremy Batty who has been Yorkshire's premier off-spinner for three years.

In addition, Andrew Caddick and Mushtaq Ahmed, who missed much of last summer, are both fit and available. Marcus Trescothick, almost unknown a year ago, is now a charismatic batsman and his pairing with Mark Lathwell guarantees an exciting start.

Bowler will bat three until Trescothick goes off to play under-19 Tests when Andy Hayhurst will have to revise his order. Richard Harden and Simon Ecclestone want a batting place and Graham Rose is a leading all-rounder. As to the bowling, if the pitches were to quicken then Andre van Troost, who has a genuine turn of pace, might become a regular matchwinner.

Somerset promised more than they achieved last summer but they were rarely less than entertaining and have it in them to upset the best.

BAC: 11. NWT: Last eight. B&H: 1st round. SL:16.

In: J Batty, P Bowler.

Out: I Bond, V Clarke, P Clifford, I Fletcher, N Folland, B Donelan, N Mallender, K Parsosn, A Payne, G White.

SURREY

In recent seasons, Surrey have had to be qualified by the phrase "it all depends on Waqar". This is not quite true because no matter now much edge the Pakistan fast bowler has given Surrey's attack, he has received some sterling support from his team-mates. The mystery is really why Surrey have failed to sweep the board in his time.

Although Joey Benjamin won an England cap and had backing from Cameron Cuffy, the injury to Martin Bicknell meant Surrey's assault on the Championship faded from July last year. Had Waqar Younis not needed an appendix removed and had not Pakistan claimed him from July, removing him from the whole season, it is just possible that the pennant might have been flying at The Oval.

Waqar's status remains the keystone. The two senior spinners have departed and Andy Smith, an off-spinning all-rounder, seems likely to become a bowler who bats; more spin will have to come from Nadeem Shahid. The batting, more audacious than that of most counties, should prosper on good pitches, for there will be no lack of strokeplay from Darren Bicknell, Stewart, Brown, Ward, Thorpe and the potentially brilliant Hollioake, to whom have been added this summer Shahid and Jason Ratcliffe.

BAC: 7. NWT: Semi-final. B&H: Semi-final. SL: 6

In: N Shahid, J Ratcliffe, R Nowell, A Slipper, R Tudor.

Out: J Boiling, N Kendrick, C Cuffy, M Lynch, A Murphy, D Thompson.

SUSSEX

Sussex, who have often given the impression of being fast asleep in a deckchair at Hove, are up and running. There is a £5m pavilion development plan and even the famous Cricketer pub is being leased out to bring in a further £1m.

Hove is being improved to host a team of champions and if such ambitions seem vainglorious it should be remembered Sussex have twice finished in the top eight and firmly believe that the team are improving summer by summer.

Norman Gifford is happy with his bowling, claiming that Franklyn Stephenson, Paul Jarvis and Ed Giddins provide an opening attack of variety and ingenuity.

Ian Salisbury and Eddie Hemmings have both bowled spin in Test matches and Gifford's chief concern is to win more consistency from his batsmen.

Alan Wells, Athey, Speight and Hall will have to sustain their form if Sussex's advance is to be maintained. The side have all-round strength, as Wells, Stephenson, Remy and North can all contribute.

Sussex won seven Championship matches last summer - and were close to winning three more - but look a better one-day prospect. Yet they are well-led and shrewdly managed and the first place that has eluded them since 1839 may yet be celebrated Sussex-style.

BAC: 8. NWT: 1st round. B&H: 2nd round. SL: 15.

In: J Bates, A Edwards, R Kirtley, M Newell.

Out: D Smith, J Dean.

ESSEX

Essex began rebuilding last season, after the retirement of Derek Pringle and Neil Foster so their sixth placing in the Championship was not too disappointing or disastrous. What was not expected, after a year of batting underachievement, was the sudden departure of the likes of Nick Knight, John Stephenson and Nadeem Shahid.

A reinforcement was an urgent necessity and Essex were lucky to get one of the best in Australia's Mark Waugh.

Paul Prichard steps up as captain, with Nasser Hussain becoming his deputy. The old stager, Graham Gooch, will be dropping down the order with Waugh followed by Jon Lewis and the advancing Ronnie Irani. Unless Illingworth calls, or injury strikes, that batting line-up will be better than most.

Neil Williams has arrived from Lord's to partner Mark Ilott but the departed Mike Kasprowicz's enthusiasm will be much missed and both Waugh and Irani are liable to have to bowl regularly. Nick Derbyshire and Darren Cousins will suport the seamers and there is a new slow left-armer from Sussex, Courtney Ricketts.

It is difficult to see Essex storming back to the top but with Keith Fletcher's shrewdness and knowledge on hand again, who knows?

BAC: 6. NWT: 2nd round. B&H: Last eight. SL: 17.

In: N Derbyshire, C Ricketts, A Hibbert, N Williams.

Out: M Kasprowicz, D Boden, M Diwan, N Knight, N Shahid, J Stephenson, D Topley.

GLAMORGAN

Glamorgan now boast county cricket's biggest membership, by dint of good marketing and reduced rates, and have to live with the high expectation such support brings. The dive of 14 places in the Championship last summer caused almost as much anguish as the rugby.

An injury to the captain, Hugh Morris, and the surprising decline of Matthew Maynard and Adrian Dale brought a shortfall in runs that made victory in the Championship elusive. Morris is now fully fit, David Hemp has had a splendid winter with England A and could emerge as a Test prospect this summer, and if Maynard, Dale and Tony Cottey all find their feet again Glamorgan should build sufficient totals to allow a better-balanced attack to bowl out the opposition.

The addition of Surrey's left-arm spinner Neil Kendrick to partner Robert Croft doubles Morris's options on wearing pitches and Glamorgan's seam attack, especially if Ottis Gibson is not selected by the West Indies, is more penetrative, and accurate, than most. Colin Metson remains a prime candidate for any England wicketkeeping vacancy.

A short tour of Zimbabwe at the start of April, playing on good pitches in warm sushine, was excellent preparation for the start of the season in Wales with its customary mix of sleet and sodden grass.

BAC: 18. NWT: Last eight. B&H: 1st round. SL: 7.

In: A Davies, P Jones, N Kendrick.

Out: S. Bastien.

KENT

The first question any opposing captain will ask is: "Who's fit?" Kent's record of fast-bowling injuries would provide enough scripts for a hospital soap. Duncan Spencer is not returning so Martin McCague and Alan Igglesden will be the opening attack, backed up by Dean Headley. Mark Benson will feel as if he has won the Lottery if all three are available.

Fortunately Kent's second-line bowling is resourceful and efficient and with Mark Ealham fit again and Min Patel fresh from Indian success there should be sufficient support, especially as the new overseas professional, Aravinda de Silva, bowls some nifty off-spin.

What Kent cannot disguise is the loss of Carl Hooper and de Silva will win many plaudits if he can get anywhere near Hooper's contribution. Hooper's applied strength and skills made Kent a formidable one-day side and they will do well to match last season's record. The batting needs to be settled but after Benson, Taylor, Ward and de Silva there is at least one place to be competed for with a string of candidates most of whom look better qualified for limited overs.

Two more spinners have been signed, one of whom, Steve Herzberg, Surrey- born, has considerable experience of Sheffield Shield cricket. Ed Stanford, a Dartford-born slow left-armer, had a good season in the second team.

BAC: 9. NWT: Semi-final. B&H: Last eight. SL: 3

In: S Herzberg, A deSilva, E Stanford.

Out: C Hooper.

LANCASHIRE

Lancashire may be on the verge of a wonderful period according to the TCCB's review of the 1994 season; certainly in quality and depth Lancashire's players outmatch any other county.

Wasim Akram is the world's best all-rounder when he chooses to be; the opening attack features two of England's best youngsters, Glen Chapple and Peter Martin; Mike Watkinson, the captain, can bowl seam, off-spin and bat as high as four or five; there are three spinners to choose from in Gary Yates, Alex Barnett and Gary Keedy, all supported by that extraordinary all-rounder Ian Austin.

The batting starts with three England players, Mike Atherton, John Crawley and Neil Fairbrother, continues wtih another certain England player in Jason Gallian and follws with two Test prospects in Graham Lloyd and Nick Speak. This galaxy is supported by such as Steve Titchard, who would be a regular elsewhere.

Lancashire regard Keedy, signed after he refused a Yorkshire contract, as the best young spinner in the country. They consider David Thompson, from Wandsworth, as the fastest young bowler and in Nathan Wood, son of Barry, they have another Young England batsman of enormous promise. The only handicap could be the loss of too many players to Test calls.

BAC: 10. NWT: 2nd round. B&H: 2nd round. SL: 4

In: A Flintoff, G Keedy, D Thompson, L Marland, P McKeown.

Out: J Fielding, N Derbyshire, J Henderson, J Stanworth.

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

After five years of Ambrose, enter Anil. Curtly, whose bowling has made Northamptonshire feared throughout the shires, tours with the West Indies and his replacement, India's leg-spinner Kumble, may find it difficult to adjust to a team whose tactics have for so long revolved around a great fast bowler.

What the Cobblers can reasonably expect is a much shorter casualty list than in 1994 when five first-choice players missed some part of the summer through injury. Kumble, with Nick Cook, Andy Roberts and Rob Bailey, will give Allan Lamb, for a change, several spin options and the batting, when all are fit again, can be both solid and quick-scoring.

The chief concern will be the seam attack. Neil Mallender returns to help Paul Taylor, Tony Penberthy and Kevin Curran but all may have to find consistent good form if the opposition is to be bowled out twice on good pitches.

Of particular satisfaction to the locals is the growing number of county- born players available; four appeared in the team last July and there are now eight on the staff.

Members and public will be pleased to see Wantage Road given over completely to cricket now that the air of gloom and failure offered by the sight of the football stands has gone forever.

BAC: 5. NWT: Last eight. B&H: 1st round. SL: 13.

In: A Kumble, C Atkins, S Boswell, J Brown, M Foster, D Sales, M Steele, A Swann.

Out: C Ambrose, N Felton.

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

As the only team to defeat Warwickshire in the Championship last summer, Nottinghamshire deserved their high placing. They also beat Leicestershire, who finished second, all this coming after a fractious winter when even Trent Bridge's closest friends were predicting decline if not disaster.

So much reliance had been placed on the two Test all-rounders Chris Lewis and Chris Cairns. The New Zealander was injured while Lewis shook the club by asking to be released. Alan Ormrod, the new coach - probably an advantage in that he had no preconceived notions or prejuidices - and Tim Robinson contrived to turn probable disappointemnt into surprising adventure.

Cairns is now fit, Lewis, surprisingly but successfully recalled by England, seems reconciled. In their absence Andy Pick refound his form, Greg Mike advanced and Kevin Lewis gave excellent service.

With Mark Crawley retired and Jimmy Adams returned to the West Indies another batsman would help support Robinson and Paul Johnson. Wayne Noon emerged as a sound deputy to Bruce French, adding useful runs and overall the team showed spirit and resilience. Two young slow left-arm bowlers and a new quick bowler have been added to the staff and the county must be a fair wager to win a trophy in 1995.

BAC: 3. NWT: 2nd round. B&H: Last eight. SL: 11.

In: M Broadhurst, C Banton, U Afzaal.

Out: J Adams, M Crawley.

WARWICKSHIRE

On the basis that lightning does not strike twice, the Bears are sensibly restricting their 1995 ambitions to no more than one trophy, but that may have been said for public consumption only. Having come so close to a grand slam, private temptations will remain.

There are two major differences from last year. Bob Woolmer is now South Africa's coach and Brian Lara is touring with the West Indies. Phil Neale, a successful Worcestershire captain and a winning England A manager, replaces Woolmer while Lara, one of the world's best batsmen, is replaced by one of the world's best fast bowlers, the returning Allan Donald. Will anyone be surprised if the Edgbaston square carries a litle more grass ?

The Woolmer-Dermot Reeve-Lara axis revolved mostly smoothly and phenomenally successfully. How Neale, Reeve and Donald blend is the key question, along with lesser queries such as the return to fitness and form of Tim Munton and the consistency of an ageing seam attack. Spin is variable and accomplished. The arriving Nick Knight may turn out to be one of the outstanding English batsmen. Keith Piper, one of the A team winners, is another England candidate and it seems unlikely that Warwickshire will go another summer without making at least one contribution to England's cause.

BAC: 1. NWT: Runners up. B&H: Winners. SL: 1

In: N Knight, A Singh, S Vestergaard.

Out: B Lara, J Ratcliffe.

WORCESTERSHIRE

Last summer could be viewed as either the last hurrah of Worcestershire's most consistently successful team or a signal that a golden era has been relaunched. In one-day cricket only Warwickhire were more successful but in the Championship, Worcestershire dropped 14 places.

Hence the appointment as the new county coach of Dave Houghton, the Zimbabwe batsman, on a three-year contract. His work with the second team last year, his ability both to improve techniques and to motivate, made a huge impression.

Rebuilding is inevitable. The seam attack, so often the sharp end of victory, has an autumnal look about it and spin is almost monopolised by Richard Illingworth. The batting can look more solid than spectacular.

Grame Hick remains the crucial figure, but he could be absent for six Tests and three one-day internationals. Tom Moody is a powerful component and New Road will be grateful that he has been spared the Australia A tour of England.

Damien D'Oliveira replaces Houghton as assistant coach and second-team captain and Adam Seymour has been released, perhaps another inidcation that Worcestershire will be recruiting in the short term on Houghton's recommendations.

BAC: 15. NWT: Winners. B&H: Runners-up. SL: 2

In: S Ellis, C Wardle.

Out: D Oliveira, A Seymour

YORKSHIRE

There may have been a good reason why Martyn Moxon should have chosen a team from another sport to illustrate the kind of success he is seeking. He cited not Manchester United nor Liverpool, or Blackburn, but Wigan.

Yorkies, you will say, always talk that way in April and then swallow, painfully, their end-of-season humble pie. Moxon was referring to credentials rather than predicting attainment, drawing attention to the nine players on the staff who have represented England from under-19 level upwards. The Australian Test player, Michael Bevan, joined Yorkshire on their pre- season tour of South Africa.

If there is a Yorkshire resurgence it could be nipped in the white rosebud by Ray Illingworth. Darren Gough, Craig White and Richard Stemp may all play Test cricket and without them it is hard to see Yorkshire sustaining a Championship attempt.

One-day cricket is another matter. Yorkshire are strong in seam, can score runs quickly and if Bevan finds form there could be murder in apple- blossom time.

With Ashley Metcalfe, Simon Kellett and Bradley Parker all waiting for a batting place, and with Alex Morris, Anthony McGrath and Chris Schofield of England under-19 in the queue, competition is intense.

BAC: 13. NWT: 2nd round. B&H: 2nd round. SL: 5.

In: M Bevan, A Morris, C Schofield.

Out: M Broadhurst, G Keedy, J Batty, M Foster, R Richardson.

MAIN FIXTURES

APRIL

18-21: Warwicks v England A (Edgbaston).

23: Benson & Hedges Cup starts.

27: Britannic Assurance County Championship starts.

MAY

7: AXA Equity and Law League starts.

24: ENGLAND v WEST INDIES

(Texaco Trophy international, Trent Bridge)

26: ENGLAND v WEST INDIES

(Texaco Trophy international,The Oval)

28: ENGLAND v WEST INDIES

(Texaco Trophy international, Lord's)

30: Benson & Hedges Cup, quarter-finals.

JUNE

8-12: ENGLAND v WEST INDIES

(First Cornhill Test, Headingley)

13: Benson & Hedges Cup semi-finals.

22-26: ENGLAND v WEST INDIES

(Seond Cornhill Test, Lord's)

27: NatWest Trophy, first round.

JULY

6-11: ENGLAND v WEST INDIES

(Third Cornhill Test, Edgbaston)

12: NatWest Trophy, second round.

15: Benson & Hedges Cup final (Lord's).

27-31: ENGLAND v WEST INDIES

(Fourth Cornhill Test, Old Trafford)

AUGUST

1: NatWest Trophy quarter-finals.

10-14: ENGLAND v WEST INDIES

(Fifth Cornhill Test, Trent Bridge)

15: NatWest Trophy, semi-finals.

24-28: ENGLAND v WEST INDIES

(Fifth Cornhill Test, The Oval)

SEPTEMBER

2: NatWest Trophy, final (Lord's).

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