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Brad eyes pain gain

The Lancashire Lightning face a crunch Twenty20 clash at Old Trafford today with Brad Hodge ready to go through the pain barrier.

The Lancashire Lightning face a crunch Twenty20 clash at Old Trafford today with Brad Hodge ready to go through the pain barrier.

The Aussie star will have a fitness test on a wrist injury which has troubled him for a fortnight and kept him out of the game at Trent Bridge last Friday when Lancashire suffered a shock defeat.

But he said: "I'm desperate to play because I know how important this game is to the club. We can't afford another defeat at this stage of the competition - it would make it difficult to qualify.

"I've had an injection which has helped but I won't know until I pick up a bat and have a net. If there is pain but I can handle the bat okay then I'll want to play."

Hodge, Twenty20's top batsman, was badly missed at Trent Bridge after his man-of-the-match performance in the first qualifier against Yorkshire at Headingley two days earlier. Today it's the toughest challenge of the lot, his old club Leicestershire.

Last summer Hodge inspired them to a crushing win over Surrey in the Edgbaston final after beating Lancashire in an Old Trafford group match. Leicester are looking good again, while Lancashire are still searching for consistency in one-day cricket.

Captain Mark Chilton admitted: "We've got to be at our best today. Another defeat would leave us with real problems and Leicester have already proved they are a tough nut to crack in this style of cricket.

"We missed Brad and Stuart Law, who had fluid on his knee, at Trent Bridge. It is bound to make a difference when you take out two big players like that. But there are other issues we've got to look at as well."

Lancashire's ploy of using three spinners in mid-innings has worked well over the two matches so far, but the seam attack of Glen Chapple and Jimmy Anderson was hammered for 106 runs off eight overs by Notts. It could mean a significant change today with Steven Crook getting a chance to use the white ball.

Chilton will also ensure that the boundaries are not as ridiculously short as they were at Trent Bridge. He said: "There is a danger that clubs will pull the ropes in far too much to produce more sixes.

"Twenty20 is spectacular, everyone likes to see the ball clearing the boundary but what does it prove if you can do it with a mis-hit shot as we saw in that match. There is room and time in Twenty20 for proper shots."

However time is not on Hodge's side. He links up with Australia's Ashes squad on July 12, leaving him only with the Twenty20 and a championship tussle with second division pacesetters Durham in which to make his mark.

So far it has been a disappointing debut season, although his desire to do well for Lancashire was highlighted by his unbeaten 64 in the Twenty20 Roses battle when he batted in increasing pain.

Chilton said: "Things haven't gone as well as we or he expected. When he first came he was still not 100 per cent after a hernia operation, and recently he has had the wrist injury to contend with.

"But he is a top-class player and a good bloke to have in the dressing-room. He's got the right attitude and we're glad that we've got him for a second season next year." Salve helices pariah inure paleoserology evangelistic?
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