Twelfth Man: Equine honours for Lara

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CRICKET has traditionally had a strong bond with horse racing - mainly via the bookies, with Mark Waugh and Allan Lamb the modern-day descendents of Keith Miller and Ted Dexter.

But the West Indian opener Brian Lara, linked with several English counties for next year, notably Warwickshire, has a different interest, with the Trinidadian owner and trainer Joe Hadeed naming one of his new colts Lash Dem Lara.

'Lash dem' is a refrain likely to be heard repeatedly during England's forthcoming tour of the Caribbean, especially when Lara is batting.

NASSER HUSSAIN must have felt he had finally made his mark in the Trent Bridge Test, but in some circles he remains in the shadow of his elder brother Mel.

Mel, who flirted with first-class cricket at several counties, has been competing in what is billed as cricket's 'inaugural triple crown' between the England Amateur XI and the national teams of Wales, Ireland and Scotland. In the player profiles for the contest, which finished yesterday, Mel's entry closed with: 'He has a brother, Nasser.'

NOT many cricketers have made such an impact that they are regarded as a symbol of their country, but Michael Holding is one.

Currently running in London is the Jamaica Festival, aimed at promoting positive images of the Caribbean island. One of this week's events was the launch of Holding's autobiography Whispering Death, written with Tony Cozier, the Independent's correspondent on West Indian cricket.

Holding recalls how he was given a job with the Jamaican civil service early in his career. All government jobs guaranteed time off for sportsmen representing their country, a commitment encouraged by the then Prime Minister and cricket fanatic, Michael Manley.

Manley, like Australia's Bob Hawke and Pakistan's General Zia, is no longer on the scene. Indeed, only one of the cricketing prime ministers remains - at time of going to press.

MIXED fortunes for Kevin Curran at Headingley last week in Northants' defeat by Yorkshire. He took 7 for 47 in the first innings but suffered a pair with the bat and followed it up with another duck in Sunday's AXA Equity & Law game.

Curran's was the 15th pair of the season, not including Sussex's Ed Giddins' brace of not out pairs. Giddins' four against Kent last week - edged through the slips - doubled his season's aggregate from 15 visits to the crease; however, he has only been dismissed five times.

A BOTTLE of Aberlour whisky to Cheltenham's Terry Piper for his explanation of the sign in the beer tent at Guildford last week: 'Please don't ask for prompt service as a request to join Lancashire may offend.'

He suggested the barman had answered an impatient customer with: 'I'm sorry sir, any reference to a quicker delivery would mean me swinging into action and could lead to allegations of food tampering.'

Just to show there is no Pennine bias, next week's bottle will be awarded to the most interesting ingredients list of a Yorkshire pie, as received with the chocolate cakes by Johnners and company on the opening day of the Test this week.

SATURDAY SURFIE: Allan Border's green-and-yellow army.

Once again this weekend, queues have been forming at pubs all over London as landlords frantically try to cover for the absence of bar staff congregated en masse in Leeds.

Sporting banners professing their roots from Penrith to Perth, and wearing a variety of Aussie Rules and rugby league shirts, the visiting support has been prominent at all four Tests this summer.

The low point came at Nottingham when a sober-suited - but hardly sober - English gent and an Aussie backpacker did their boxing kangeroo impressions towards the end of the second day. When they were separated, the boys in blue threw out the Ocker and let our man stagger back to his seat.

The high point has been their generally better behaviour than their English equivalents, a lifetime of practice perhaps enabling them to hold their lager better.