MIKE Atherton will relaunch his bid for a Test place against Warwickshire on Wednesday - with old adversary Brian Lara in the opposition.

Athers has been out for a week after suffering a back spasm in the nets at Hove last Tuesday.

He was set to return in yesterday's Axa League game against Middlesex but suffered more frustration as the game was washed out by more torrential rain at Old Trafford.

But the Warwickshire game will be a superb stage for him to impress the England management.

With Lara back in place of Allan Donald as the new Warwickshire captain, the Bears are strongly fancied in all competitions this season.

But Lancashire will also have an overseas ace as skipper with Wasim Akram ready to return, and are desperate to put last season's double disaster in the one-day knockout competitions behind them.

But Neil Fairbrother is still a doubt with the split finger he suffered taking a slip catch at Hove.

The Warwickshire game is the first of five in the qualifying zone, with Lancashire also facing trips to Leicester, Nottingham and Norwich - where they play the Minor Counties - and a home game against Northants.

Today at Old Trafford Lancashire and Middlesex were facing more frustration on the last day of their Championship match, with more heavy rain yesterday leaving the outfield saturated and a pitch inspection was due at 12.30pm.

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