This week’s Division Two fixtures kicks off the season for Derbyshire, Sussex, Durham, and Worcestershire who face Northamptonshire, Kent, Nottinghamshire, and Glamorgan respectively.
Arguably, the most intriguing fixture in Division Two this week is the battle between the two relegated sides, Durham and Nottinghamshire at Chester-Le-Street. Notts started the season well last week with a good win against Leicestershire, following a superb all-round performance from James Pattinson. In all honesty, it is hard to predict how Durham will go this season, the loss of Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman to Surrey will no doubt be a challenge, but the 48-point deduction could well create a siege mentality in the North East, eager to prove a point first up.
This week also sees Northamptonshire travel to Derbyshire, on a high following a win within two days against Glamorgan last week. 2016 was a distinctly forgettable season for Derbyshire who will be hoping to make an impression early. I’m excited to see how new signing Gary Wilson from Surrey goes for Derbyshire. Coach John Sadler is said to be attempting to impose an aggressive brand of cricket, but this may be difficult against a Northants side full of confidence.
Next, Glamorgan host Worcestershire at the lovely SWALEC ground in Cardiff, hoping to move on from their collapse last week against Northants. There may be some scarring in the batting line up after being bowled out for 101 and 187 that the Worcestershire bowling attack will undoubtedly be looking to target, particularly if it’s a green deck. Glamorgan welcome back Michael Hogan who was unavailable for last week’s game, the Cardiff faithful will be hoping to see a good partnership with him and new signing Marchent de Lange.
Also this week, Gloucestershire welcome Leicestershire to Bristol. Its been a tough week for Leicestershire after losing to Notts and finding out about a 16-point deduction after numerous misdemeanours in the past 12 months. Gloucestershire are set to be captained by new signing Phil Mustard after club captain Gareth Roderick has been struck down with illness. Gloucestershire suffered a heavy defeat by 334 runs last week in Canterbury, including the embarrassment of being bowled out for 61 in their 2nd innings. How this young Gloucestershire team respond will show a lot about their temperament and self-belief going into this season.
Finally, Kent travel along the south coast to Hove to face Sussex. Kent will be determined to back up last season’s 2nd place and and impressive win last week. Veteran all-rounder Darren Stevens took 6 for 22 amidst the carnage in Gloucestershire’s 2nd innings last week. Sam Northeast’s men from Canterbury will also be boosted with the addition of fast bowler Wayne Parnell to the attack this week. Sussex are also set to give debuts to two South Africans, Vernon Philander and Stiaan Van Zyl, a hard game to call, but it is set to be an interesting game.
Previews by Harry Hill - You can follow Harry on Twitter @HarryHill96
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