Bracken misses final
Reports yesterday suggested that Nathan Bracken, the tall left-arm fast bowler from New South Wales, would arrive in time to make his Gloucestershire debut in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy final on Saturday (August 28) - but now it seems that Bracken's flight won't arrive in England in time for him to play at Lord's.
The absence of Bracken, who has won three Test caps, will leave Gloucestershire short of fast-bowling options as they seek to defend their title against Worcestershire, who coincidentally they beat convincingly in last year's final. Mike Smith, the left-arm swing bowler capped once by England in 1997, is doubtful with a back problem, but it is expected that Mark Alleyne, Gloucestershire's captain/coach, will defy doctor's orders and play despite a broken thumb.
Worcestershire will also be a fast bowler short, as Kabir Ali is suffering from a stomach injury which has also forced him out of the England one-day side for the forthcoming NatWest Challenge matches against India, but are otherwise at full strength. The Lord's final will be the last hurrah for Steven Rhodes, Worcestershire's 40-year-old wicketkeeper and stand-in captain, who is retiring at the end of the season.