4/6/2017 0 Comments
Division Two kicks off tomorrow with an unfamiliar face set to line up in the second tier for the first time in ten years as Nottinghamshire fresh from their shock relegation from Division One face Leicestershire at Grace Road.
Leicestershire has just been hit by the news that they will start life in Division Two in minus digits after being hit by a 16-point penalty for breaching ECB rules regarding obscene language and/or gestures made by skipper Charlie Shreck during a recent university fixture against Loughborough. It is a blow for the Midlanders who will now be immediately on the back foot as they face the toughest looking side in the Division on the opening day. Leicestershire, have been quiet over the winter but have recently recruited batsman Colin Ackerman to bolster their batting ranks ahead of their opening game against the Outlaws. The Foxes are blessed with experience with the bat with Mark Pettini, Paul Horton and Michael Cosgrove all in their thirties, it will be key those three alongside the newly signed Ackerman score in abundance for the Midlanders to spring a surprise or two this summer, but they will have to do without their skipper Cosgrove as he will have to sit out following the incident that occurred last week. With the ball, they loss of Shreck will hit them hard as he faces a spell on the sidelines he is a reliable seamer who has a history of picking up wickets with the new ball, much will rely on the all-round expertise of Ben Raine and the experiences Clint Mckay as they look to shock Nottinghamshire at Grace Road.
For Nottinghamshire, they are rightly the red hot favourites for promotion back to the top-flight, and this game will be the perfect spring board to kick start their season in style. They are blessed with talent with Stuart Broad, new overseas signing James Patterson and Harry Gurney all ready to let rip with the ball in hand. Their batting isn’t bad either with Alex Hales, Chris Read, Michael Lumb and Riki Wessels all more than capable of making 1,000 runs this year. You would expect them to be strong and new coach, former England coach Peter Moores at the helm you would also expect them to be tactically strong too. I expect them to overpower Leicestershire and stroll to a routine win in the East Midlands.
Weather watch: Friday: cloudy with highs of 13, Saturday: Sunshine with highs of 16, Sunday: Sunshine with highs of 20, and the final day will be played under cloudy skies with highs of 11.
Toss Prediction: I suspect Notts will look to bat Leicestershire out of the game and seek an innings win, so Nottingham to bat first if they win the toss.
Match odds: Leics: 11/5, Draw: 0/1. Notts: 4/9
Team news in full:
Leics (from): Cosgrove (capt), Ackermann, Ali, Chappell, Dearden, Eckersley, Griffiths, Hill, Horton, McKay, Pettini, Raine, Wells.
Notts (from): Read (capt), Broad, Fletcher, Gurney, Hales, Hutton, Libby, Lumb, Moores, Patel, Pattinson, Read, Smith, Wessels.
Whilst, Nottinghamshire may be favourites for promotion another team who may have a say in that matter are Kent, who face Gloucestershire at Canterbury in their opening match of the season. True to the current County set-up at the minute, the Spitfires too have a new coach in former Kent and Essex batsman, Matt Walker. Walker has assembled a side packed full of local talent and experience as he looks to put a promotion on his coaching CV. There is no doubting that he has the batting at his disposal with future England star Daniel Bell-Drummond set to open the batting alongside former England opener Joe Denly, with skipper Sam Northeast coming in at three, on paper, it looks to be a strong top order at this level. With the ball, they have the wily old hands of Darren Stevens and James Tredwell alongside the pace of Mitch Claydon and James Harris – who joined from Middlesex on loan last week. It is a strong side, and one that should they hit their straps will be the surprise package of the summer
For Gloucestershire, our friends at GlosFans on Twitter has informed us in our preview that they don’t hold much hope for a promotion but they do have some handy players that will cause the Spitfires some problems in game week one. Phil Mustard, who arrived permanently in the winter will captain the side and if his batting is anything to go by you can expect some explosive captaincy from the wicket-keeper batsman. He is just one of many dangerous players Kent must watch out for, in Liam Norwell, they have a prized bowling asset at Division Two level and David Payne and Craig Miles are also dangers with the ball. Chris Dent is the run getter having scored 1000 runs last summer and he will be key not only in this match but also for the entire season.
This fixture will be tight with the strong possibility of a draw.
Weather watch: Friday: Dark clouds with highs of 12, Saturday: light clouds with highs of 13, Sunday: Sunshine with highs of 18, and the final day will be played under light clouds with highs of 13
Toss: Gloucestershire will look up to the heavens and take the option to bowl first as the away side.
Match Odds: Kent: 5/8, Draw: SP/1, Glos: 11/8
Teams in full:
Kent: 17 Sam Northeast (c), 23 Daniel Bell-Drummond, 6 Joe Denly, 9 Joe Weatherley, 42 Will Gidman, 3 Darren Stevens, 10 Alex Blake, 12 Adam Rouse (wk), 26 Matt Coles, 15 James Tredwell, James Harris, 8 Mitch Claydon.
Glos: 15 Chris Dent, 43 Cameron Bancroft, 4 Will Tavare, 12 Graeme van Buuren, 21 George Hankins, 28 Ian Cockbain, 19 Phil Mustard (c, wk), 10 Jack Taylor, 34 Craig Miles, 14 David Payne, 24 Liam Norwell, 23 Craig Liddle, Oliver Currill.
The final fixture of this Division Two game week sees Northamptonshire take on Glamorgan.
It is not often that Northampton has a player in the Wisden’s top five players of the year, but in Ben Duckett, they have a star in the making. Duckett may have struggled in the winter during his brief foray with the England squad but there is little doubt the hard-hitting opener will get his chance with the three lions again in the near future. For now, though it is about doing the business for his beloved Northants, it is testament to his loyalty that the much talked about top order batsman has remained a Steelback when he could’ve sealed a move to a top-flight county with ease. But Division One’s loss is Northampton’s gain and they will once again rely heavily on his runs if they are to seriously challenge for promotion this year. He will need assistance though and in Josh Cobb and Alex Wakely they have player capable of making runs, it is with the ball you fear they may struggle with this summer, a look at the squad list for this fixture shows you that only really Ben Sanderson (who burst onto the scene last season) and new signing Nathan Buck strike any fear into a side.
Looking at Glamorgan’s squad for this fixture tells you why many aren’t expecting them to have a spectacular season, it’s a team mixed with youth and experience but one that doesn’t really strike you as a team that will threaten. There is potential with Donald and De Lange as well as the upcoming Harry Podmore, but the loss of Timm Van Der Gugten will hit them hard. They may trouble Northampton but there are far stronger outfits than the Welsh contingent of the County Championship.
Weather Watch: Friday: Cloudy with highs of 12, Saturday: Sunny with highs of 16, Sunday: Sunny with highs of 20, and the final day will be played under white clouds with highs of 11.
Toss: Glamorgan to take the option of bowling.
Match odds: Northants: 4/5, Draw: 0/1, Glam: 6/5
Teams in full:
Northants: Buck, Cobb, Duckett, Holden, Kleinveldt, Levi, Newton, Rossington (w/k), Wakley ©, White, Sanderson
Glam: Rudolph (c), Selman, Lloyd, Ingram, Cooke, Donald, Carlson, Meschede, Morgan, Salter, De Lange, Carey, Podmore
Previews by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
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