Whilst children all around the country tuck into their hot cross buns and Easter eggs, county cricket members will be travelling all over the country to watch some bank holiday cricket.
In Division One, Hampshire will be looking to back up their memorable win in Leeds with a home success over last year's champions Middlesex. The Ageas Bowl based club are likely to be unchanged from the side that secured a four-wicket win over Yorkshire with the aggressive Kyle Abbott looking to continue his fine early season form in Southampton.
Ahead of the clash Hampshire head coach Craig White told the Hampshire Official site that the boys look to be in a positive mindset.
“There’s going to be no easy games this year but we’re really looking forward to the challenge. I think we’ve taken a huge amount of confidence away from the game at Headingley and hopefully, we can take that into the game against Middlesex.
“We had a couple of days off after the Yorkshire match and then we had a good training session yesterday and topped that up today – the boys seem to be in a really good place so we’re all looking forward to it.” He said.
Middlesex, meanwhile, enter the clash as current holders but don’t hold a great recent record against Hampshire having won just one of their 13 previous trips to Southampton. A quick look down their squad for the upcoming fixture though will tell you why they are a dangerous outfit. Their strength lies in their bowling for sure with Toby Roland-Jones, Steven Finn and Tim Murtagh all set to feature at the Ageas Bowl on Good Friday. Their batting isn’t bad either with Sam Robson and overseas pro Adam Voges sure to hit some runs this summer and in James Franklin, they have an experienced all-rounder as their captain. They will be there or thereabouts come September and they will be keen to pick up where they left off last season.
Weather watch: Friday: Cloudy with highs of 13c, Saturday: Cloudy with highs of 12c, Sunday: Cloudy with highs of 12c and the final day will be played with a chance of rain and highs of 13c.
Toss Prediction: No toss Middlesex to bowl.
Match Odds: Hampshire 5/4, Draw 0/1, Middlesex 4/6
Team news in full:
Hampshire: Vince ©, Adams, Ervine, Dawson, Berg, Carberry, McManus (w/k), Rossouw, Crane, Wheal, Edwards, and Abbott
Middlesex: Franklin ©, Eskinazi, Finn, Gubbins, Helm, Higgins, Malan, Murtagh, Rayner, Robson, Roland-Jones, Simpson and Voges
Essex travel West to Somerset looking for their first win on their return to the top-flight boosted by the news that former England skipper Alastair Cook has recovered from the sore hip that kept him out of the opening game of the season and is set to feature for the Eagles at Taunton. His return will mean a change to the side that battled to a draw against Lancashire last week. It will be a tough call for Chris Silverwood with the seemingly obvious option being Dan Lawrence but his display against Lancashire has made him almost undroppable. Varun Chopra could be the man to miss out for the Eagles after a disappointing start to the season but either way, you can be sure to see Cook in the XI somewhere. Youngster Aaron Beard will be looking to continue his fine early season form with the ball in the West Country after impressing against Lancashire at Chelmsford last week as he looks to stake a claim as a regular starter for the Eagles in Division One.
Somerset will be looking to go one better than last season under new skipper Tom Abell. Abell will captain the side for the first time in a competitive fixture tomorrow and they will hope his innovative captaincy will create more opportunities for success this summer after narrowly missing out on the title last season. Looking at their squad on paper you’d be a foolish man to write them off as Championship contenders, they have a strong batting line-up which you would suspect Essex would struggle to bowl out twice in this fixture with Dean Elgar, Marcus Trescothick, Abell and James Hildreth a pretty formidable opening four. In the Overton twins they have two of the most promising young bowlers in the country and with Lewis Gregory, they have a cracking new ball partnership and first change line-up. They will be too strong for Essex and for me an outside chance of being crowned Division One winners come September.
Weather Watch: Friday: Cloudy with highs of 14, Saturday: cloudy with highs of 11c, Sunday: Cloudy with highs of 12, and the final day will be played under cloudy skies with highs of 13c.
Toss Prediction: No Toss Essex to bowl.
Match Odds: Somerset 8/11, Draw 0/1, Essex 11/8
Team news is full:
Somerset: Trescothick, Elgar, Abell (c), Hildreth, Davies (w/k), Trego, Van der Merwe, Gregory, Overton C, Overton J, Groenewald and Leach
Essex: Ten Doeschate, Beard, Bopara, Browne, Cook, Harmer, Lawrence, Porter, Wagner, Westley, Wheater (w/k) and Zaidi
Two County heavyweights meet at the Oval as Surrey tackle Lancashire in South London in an Easter weekend thriller. Surrey will enter the clash as slight favourites following their comprehensive success over Warwickshire last week. This will though be a much tighter battle with the Red Rose batting attack looking in good early season form following back-to-back scores of 300+ at Chelmsford last week. Lancashire will be skippered by a new face at the Oval following the injury sustained by Steven Croft in Essex, the man to lead the Red Rose is highly thought of Liam Livingstone. Livingstone will have to make do without England seam bowler James Anderson though who has been ordered to rest by the ECB. Saqib Mahmood will be Anderson’s replacement whilst the Red Rose will look for a similar performance from Kyle Jarvis, Alex Davies and Dane Vilas – who all impressed last week.
Surrey meanwhile will be looking to make it back-to-back home wins and they are much fancied to do well this summer and they proved that last week with a comprehensive success over Warwickshire. Debutant Mark Stoneman shone last week and will be looking to continue to impress at his new home ground this weekend. Mark Footitt, the Curran brothers Sam and Thomas as well as Jade Dernbach are a formidable bowling quartet and will surely cause the Lancashire line-up some bother. Lancashire are vulnerable early on as Essex proved when they had them in trouble on 160/6 so the Red Rose will be wary of a getting off to a good start with the bat.
Weather Watch: Friday: Cloudy with highs of 15c, Saturday: Cloudy with highs of 12c, Sunday: Cloudy with highs of 12c and the final days play will be played under white clouds with highs of 13c.
Toss Prediction: Toss, Surrey to bat after Lancashire loss the call.
Match odds: Surrey 4/7, Draw 0/1, Lancashire 17/10
Team news in full:
Surrey: Batty (c), Ansari, Borthwick, Burns, Curran S, Curran T, Dernbach, Foakes (wk), Footitt, Meaker, Sangakkara, Sibley, Stoneman
Lancashire: Livingstone (c), Chanderpaul, Clark, Davies (w/k), Haseeb Hameed, Jarvis, Kerrigan, Saqib Mahmood, McLaren, Parry, Procter, Vilas
The final fixture sees the two losers of the opening weekend's fixtures meet at Edgbaston as Warwickshire face Yorkshire. Both will be keen to bounce back following disappoint defeats at the hands of Surrey and Hampshire respectively.
Warwickshire have a young looking side mixed with a bunch of experienced pros with the likes of Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott set to be key for the Bears as they look to return to winning ways. Trott, who scored a ton during the opening game will be looking to find some partners to bat with this time around after a disappointing display last week saw the Birmingham-based club fall to an inning defeat despite a fine 151 from the former England man. Ahead of the clash, Jim Troughton told the Bears official website that he expects his side to ‘bounce back hard’.
“Both had a disappointing result to start the season with and will be champing at the bit to put things right.
"We know what went wrong for us at The Oval. We played a very good side at the top of their form but effectively gave them a two-day head start. Of course, you can't afford to do that.
"We had hit back really well with the ball to get them all out for 450 after they were 400 for five, but then ran into Mark Footitt's spell and to lose five batsmen for ducks in about ten overs is pretty exceptional.
"But we've got a lot of experience and quality in the dressing-room. These guys have been through that sort of thing before and bounced back hard and that's what we'll be looking to do against Yorkshire.” The Warwickshire head coach said.
Gary Ballance’s will to be hoping to see a reaction from his Yorkshire side after a shock home defeat to Hampshire. Ballance himself would’ve have been pleased with his own individual display but will now be looking for a team display rather than an individual one. And he will be looking for more from new overseas’ pro Peter Handscomb, who want to see his new county put sides to the sword after a disappointing defeat on his White Rose debut.
“The mood in the camp is definitely upbeat and the boys all understand that cricket can be a bit of a fickle game at times and sometimes results don’t go your way. It was disappointing to lose from the strong position we were in. Moving forwards we were able to get ourselves into that strong position, so in the games in the future, we just need to be able to capitalise on that and really put the foot on the throat when we need to.” The Australian batsman told the Yorkshire official site.
Team news wise the Tykes look stronger with the returning David Willey and Adil Rashid adding vital experience to the bowling line-up alongside the impressive youngster Ben Coad, whilst Matthew Fisher also returns to the squad.
Weather watch: Friday: rain with highs of 13c, Saturday: cloudy with highs of 10c, Sunday: Dark clouds with highs of 11c, and the final day will be played under white skies with highs of 11c.
Toss Prediction: With rain scheduled no toss, Yorkshire to bowl.
Match Odds: Warwickshire 11/8, Draw 0/1, Yorkshire 8/11
Team News in full:
Warwickshire: Bell ©, Ambrose (w/k) Barker, Clarke, Hain, Hannon-Dalby, Mellor, Patel, Porterfield, Singh, Thornton, Trott and Wright
Yorkshire: Ballance ©, Bresnan, Coad, Fisher, Handscomb, Hodd (W/k), Leaning, Lees, Lyth, Patterson, Rashid, Warner, Willey
Charlie Jennings will be Snapchatting live from Edgbaston on Saturday and Sunday, you can follow us on Snapchat @ViewFromtheOut
Previews by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
You can follow live updates throughout the four days through our Twitter feed @ViewfromtheOut
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