IAN Harvey will tomorrow enter the same den in which he was once one of the fiercest lions when Yorkshire take on holders Gloucestershire in the semi-final of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy at Bristol.

The 32-year-old Australian all-rounder played a massive part in turning Gloucestershire into the kings of one-day cricket by helping them to secure five trophies in the five summers he was with them up to the start of this season.

Now he is returning to his old stamping-ground just as fiercely competitive as ever, but this time determined to crush his former comrades and see Yorkshire through to their second C&G final in three years.

And, despite having just made it back into the team after a two-months lay-off with a torn hamstring, Harvey is in peak form - as he demonstrated to 11,600 appreciative fans at Headingley on Wednesday when he blasted 108 from 59 balls with 16 fours and two sixes to obliterate Lancashire in the Twenty-20 cup.

Just as importantly - and particularly so in view of captain Craig White's absence tomorrow with yet another leg injury - Harvey is in excellent nick with the ball, his accurate bowling and two wickets pegging back Lancashire after they had threatened to run amok.

How did Harvey think the Gloucestershire faithful would react to seeing their former hero returning home in the opposition side and hell-bent on denying Mark Alleyne's team another visit to Lord's?

"I have no idea, I will just have to wait and see," said Harvey. "I have made a lot of friends down there and I just hope they won't give me too hard a time.

"I am really looking forward to catching up with a lot of good mates and just enjoying what will be a very big occasion.

"I don't think I will be under any extra pressure because we are playing Gloucestershire.

"The only pressure will be that which I put myself under and I hope it will help me perform well against my old club.

"The two months I was out of action until this week were very frustrating but it felt marvellous to be able to return and score a century against Lancashire."

The Australian has a strong regard for his former county, especially skipper Mark Alleyne, whose ability to make almost an instant analysis of a game was lauded by Harvey.

He added: "Gloucestershire are a great one-day side and the key to their success comes from having bowlers who consistently put the ball in the right areas.

"Nobody has any real pace but bowlers like Jon Lewis find the spot and are very difficult to get away.

"Another big asset is their fielding which can easily save 20 or 30 runs and they also play well as a team and enjoy their cricket.

"Mark Alleyne is a fantastic one-day captain who can analyse a game really well and he wins matches with his field changes and switching the bowlers around.

"With only one or two internationals in their side, they are completely different to Yorkshire who have five or six, but I don't think this has handicapped them because they have won five finals."

However, Harvey is confident the White Rose county can prevail.

"Yorkshire have also got a magnificent team, however, and I am sure we can win if we are consistent and put it all together on the day," he ventured.

"We have done really well in cup games this season and it will be something special if we can make it through to Lord's once again."

Gloucestershire may not be quite the power they once were now that Harvey has left them and Jack Russell is no longer there to breathe down batsmen's necks from behind the stumps but they are formidable opponents, strengthened by the recent signing of Australian Michael Hussey and Kiwi James Franklin to take the places of Shabbir Ahmed and Shoaib Malik, who are both wanted by Pakistan.

But Yorkshire have Michael Vaughan back in their ranks for the first time since his dazzling unbeaten century against Lancashire in the quarter-finals.

And with countryman Darren Lehmann joining forces with Harvey after returning yesterday from Australia's home series with Sri Lanka, Yorkshire must be in with every chance of finally bringing Gloucestershire's glorious one-day reign to an end.

Updated: 12:23 Friday, July 16, 2004