4/26/2018 0 Comments
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu), Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid) & Harry Hill (@HarryHill96)
Game week three sees the start of the introduction of the England Test players returning to the County fold looking to find some vital form ahead of the English Test summer.
Alastair Cook in particular needs to find something, anything, to get him going ahead of potentially his last English Test Summer. The former England skipper looked woefully out of touch in the winter and will be hoping some time back with his beloved Eagles will rejuvenate him and offer him some vital time in the middle. Last summer, he was fantastic for the Champions contributing with nearly every innings in an Essex shirt and Anthony McGrath will hope the legendary left-hander can find that form again to help aid the Eagles to their second success of the season in Southampton.
It won’t be easy for Cook though, Hampshire are blessed with one of the best bowling attacks in the division with the likes of Kyle Abbott, Fidel Edwards and Gareth Berg already well amongst the wickets. That, of course, doesn’t even mention Liam Dawson and Chris Wood who are also always a danger with the ball in hand.
The Chef though will just want to go about his work, free of the pressure of holding up an end for England as the doubts continue to linger about his future and the batting order around him. A few early season runs will do Cook the world of good you would expect, and you could also argue he needs them to keep his place in the Test side.
The returning ‘little Chef,’ Sam Cook, who burst on the scene at the back end of last season for the Champions, will join ‘big Chef ‘in the squad. I was lucky enough to witness Sam Cook’s finest hour in his early career in an Essex shirt as he ripped through the Hampshire line-up at the Ageas Bowl last September. How he would love to repeat that trick again in Southampton to prove it wasn’t just a fluke.
A three-pronged pace attack of Cook, Jamie Porter and Peter Siddle, with the spin option of Simon Harmer, is one certainly to challenge the strength Hampshire have and you suspect the performance of those two attacks will go a long way to deciding the outcome of this encounter.
There is still no place in the side for former Hampshire man Matt Coles who is seemingly being saved for Essex’s one-day side.
For Hampshire, they remain unchanged as they look to bounce back from their defeat at the Oval. They would have been pleased to see Sam Northeast amongst the runs, as they look for more stability in the middle order. Essex will know all about Hashim Amla, who previously spent a stint in Chelmsford. The form of the South African will be key to ensure Hampshire get runs on the board as you suspect the visitors will put Hampshire in on the opening morning. It is sure to be an exciting encounter with plenty of international stars past and present on show in Southampton, and who will come out on top is anyones guess, much will rely on Cook and Amla as these two bowling attacks have the ability to blow any batting line-up away.
How they line up:
Hampshire: Adams, Wood, Dawson, Berg, Vince ©, Amla, Northeast, McManus (w/k), Rossouw, Weatherley, Wheal, Edwards, Abbott and Sole
Essex: ten Doeschate ©, Foster (w/k), Beard, Bopara, Browne, Chopra, A. Cook, S. Cook, Harmer, Lawrence, Porter, Siddle and Westley
Day one: Heavy rain – little chance of play
Day Two: Cloudy
Day three: Cloudy – with a chance of afternoon showers
Day Four: Morning rain – clearing in the afternoon
Meanwhile, at Old Trafford, the Lancastrian faithful will be hoping and praying that they can get their season up and running.
It has been a surprisingly testing start to the campaign for Glen Chapple’s men with defeats to Nottinghamshire and Essex leaving them rock bottom of the Championship. They were many people picks for the Championship, a strong looking bowling attack coupled with a decent looking top order meant some of the esteemed View From the Outfield writers fancied them to lift the Division One trophy come September.
However, with a tricky looking game against Surrey now on the horizon, they must now start to look to get their season moving as they are at risk of being cast adrift even this early in the season.
The Red Rose have been forced to wait for the arrival of James Anderson back to their side, but they do still have an impressive attack with Joe Meenie settling in well to County cricket and the evergreen Graham Onions still look dangerous after his switch to Old Trafford from Chester-Le-Street. They do have plenty of potential run-makers in Hameed, Livingstone and Jennings at the top of the order, in theory, all the ingredients are there to make a title-winning team, for one reason or another it just hasn’t quite clicked yet for the Lanky boys.
Glen Chapple has made just the one change to the squad that lost in Chelmsford with promising pace bowler Saqib Mahmood coming into the 14 replacing all-rounder Danny Lamb.
For Surrey, they tasted the sweet taste of success at the first time of trying thrashing Hampshire at the Oval in game week two. The ‘Reys squad looks well balanced and is a threat to any side. The mystery of Amar Virdi adds a different dimension to their team, whilst Sam Curran is another year older and stronger and Jade Dernbach looks to have finally worked out how to stop leaking runs.
With the bat, they have runs throughout the batting line-up as was proved last week with Ollie Pope striking his first century of the season. Mark Stoneman is an England international and in Ben Foakes they have one of the best wicket-keeper batsmen in England. It is hardly surprising they nullified the threat of Hampshire with such ease and grace last week.
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that ‘moneybags’ Surrey have named no fewer than nine Surrey academy graduates in their 13-man squad travelling to Manchester. Ravi Patel – who has been impressing in the 2XI and Stuart Meaker join the eleven men who played in their opening games success over Hampshire. Clearly, the Rey are expecting some seam movement at Old Trafford as they pack their squad with talented seamers.
If they can dodge the weather the visitors will fancy their chances of making it two-out-of-two at Old Trafford.
How they line-up:
Lancashire: Liam Livingstone (C), Tom Bailey, Shiv Chanderpaul, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, Alex Davies, Haseeb Hameed, Keaton Jennings, Saqib Mahmood, Joe Mennie, Graham Onions, Stephen Parry, Matt Parkinson, Dane Vilas
Surrey: Rory Burns (C), Mark Stoneman, Scott Borthwick, Dean Elgar, Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes, Sam Curran, Rikki Clarke, Jade Dernbach, Matthew Dunn, Amar Virdi, Ryan Patel, Stuart Meaker
Day One: Light Rain – expect little play
Day Two: Light clouds
Day Three: Light Clouds
Day Four: Rain in the morning clearing throughout the day
Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire
Worcestershire 13-man squad: Daryl Mitchell, Brett D’Oliveira, Tom Fell, Joe Clarke, Travis Head, George Rhodes, Ben Cox, Ed Barnard, Joe Leach, Josh Tongue, Charlie Morris, Ben Twohig, Ross Whiteley.
Nottinghamshire 12-man squad: Jake Libby, Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney, Stuart Broad, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Tom Moores, Ross Taylor, Jake Ball, Billy Root.
Ross Whiteley comes into the Worcestershire squad as a replacement for Steve Magoffin, who is rested after suffering a tight hamstring against Somerset last week. Young legspinner Ben Twohig could make his first-class debut if selected. Ed Barnard will be looking to continue his fine form, after taking 11-89 in the defeat at Taunton last week. For Notts, Stuart Broad returns after being rested for his first match of the season, whilst Tom Moores will be looking to take some more stunning catches behind the stumps, that attracted the attention of Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea during the week. Notts will know that they need to improve their batting from defeat at Headingley last week, after relying on Jake Ball’s 44* in the first innings.
Weather Watch: Rain forecast for Friday and Saturday, before dry spells on Sunday and Monday. Highs of around 10c.
Match Odds: Worcestershire 7/4, Nottinghamshire 4/9. (Betfair).
Somerset v Yorkshire
Somerset – Tom Abell (c), Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Dom Bess, Josh Davey, Steve Davies, Lewis Gregory, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Matt Renshaw, Marcus Trescothick and Paul van Meekeren.
Yorkshire – Gary Ballance ©, Tim Bresnan, Harry Brook, Jack Brooks, Karl Carver, Ben Coad, Andrew Hodd (WK), Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Cheteshwar Pujara, Josh Shaw, Matthew Waite
Top of the table Yorkshire visit Taunton. The Yorkshire faithful see their good start as evidence that Yorkshire will be Championship contenders, after being well off the pace in 2017. Somerset fans will hope that their side can follow up the win last week and get the fast start that will allow them to play their trump card of Leach and Bess successfully during the Championship run-in. For Somerset, Eddie Bryom dislocated a shoulder in the field against Worcestershire and Jamie Overton has a side strain, although it is minor and he is expected to be back quickly. Paul van Meekeren replaces the latter, while Tom Banton and George Bartlett are added to replace the former. Yorkshire have a long list of absences: apart from Adil Rashid, taking a red-ball sabbatical, Steve Patterson (broken finger), Matthew Fisher (torn side), Liam Plunkett and David Willey (both IPL), Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow are unavailable. Root and Bairstow will be netting at Headingley and should be available for the trip to Essex, although Bairstow will not start preparation until Monday. Yorkshire have won more than half of the 175 games between the two sides (91 wins to Somerset’s 24), but things have been far more even in recent seasons and this game could turn out to be finely balanced. Ben Coad has been flying again this season for the Yorkies and it must be a worry that he may get into the England squad this summer to add to the drain on resources. Jack Brooks is also having a good start to the season. For Somerset, there is quiet optimism, particularly as the quicks proved so potent against Worcestershire, meaning that they will be just as happy if the Taunton pitch has something in it for the seamers as they will be if it is a turner.
Middlesex v Glamorgan
Middlesex – Dawid Malan (captain), Tom Barber, Hilton Cartwright, Stephen Eskinazi, James Franklin, Tom Helm, Max Holden, Tim Murtagh, Ollie Rayner, Sam Robson, George Scott, John Simpson (wicket-keeper), Paul Stirling.
Glamorgan – Hogan ©, Selman, Murphy, Marsh, Carlson, Donald, Cooke, Lloyd, Salter, Carey, de Lange, van der Gugten, Smith
This is one of the most interesting games of this round, matching 2nd v 3rd in the table. Despite their late scare, Glamorgan looked very good against Gloucestershire, while Middlesex have shown the frustrating Jekyll and Hyde inconsistency of 2017 in their first two games. Glamorgan pick the XII who went to Bristol but add Ruaidhri Smith to give them an extra pace option. The Middlesex dressing room, in contrast, resembles a plot line from a popular BBC series when I was a (young) kid, called “Emergency Ward Ten”. While Middlesex welcome back Dawid Malan after his enforced rest for the first two rounds of Championship cricket and Steve Eskinazi (after missing two games with a virus), there is still too much bad news for comfort. After missing the end of the season and the England tour through injury, Toby Roland-Jones has been found to have a recurrence of the stress fracture of his back and will miss the rest of the season. “Toblerone” made such an impact for England on his debut last season and his injury is a tragedy both for Middlesex and for England: he seems fated not to add to his Test caps. Toblerone joins a lengthy injury list of James Harris (side), Steve Finn (knee), Nick Gubbins (not yet quite ready to come back) and Eoin Morgan (broken thumb). Tim Murtagh has recovered from his back spasm and is in the squad, although one suspects that the coach will watch him closely in the pre-match warm-up as Middlesex can ill-afford another bowler to breakdown mid-match, having lost Roland-Jones, Harris and Murtagh at different moments against Derbyshire. While Middlesex’s squad depth is such that they can still field six internationals, one wonders if the fates are against them in their promotion push. This game already looks like a “must not lose” for the Londoners, while Glamorgan are looking forward to their first game at Lord’s for nine years and travel with great optimism that they have a real chance to back up last week’s impressive win, with a big scalp.
Sussex v Gloucestershire
Sussex – Ben Brown (c/wk), Danny Briggs, Michael Burgess, Harry Finch, Ollie Robinson, Phil Salt, Ishant Sharma, Stiaan van Zyl, Stuart Whittingham, David Wiese, Luke Wells, Luke Wright
Gloucestershire – Dent (c), Howell, Roderick, Bracey, J.Taylor, van Buuren, Higgins, Noema-Barnett, Miles, Worrall, M.Taylor, Liddle, Hankins
Gloucestershire travel to Sussex-by-the-Sea having followed a fine win against Kent, with three days of abject cricket against Glamorgan that left them just too much to do to salvage the draw. Sussex have been unfortunate to play their first two matches on absolutely dead surfaces that would not have produced a result in five days and, the pitch at Grace Road, probably not even in six. Both sides want the win to keep up the pressure on the sides at the top of the table. Sussex replace Will Beer, who has a sore side after a long bowl on the pitiless Grace Road pitch, with Danny Briggs, who has recovered fitness after a knee operation and has been playing for the 2nd XI to get match fit. Many people see Sussex as a good outside bet for promotion and it is certainly true that they have impressed in the two draws. Gloucestershire go back to the team that beat Kent. Giant Liam Norwell, who came out batting on one leg to try and save the game against Glamorgan, misses the game with a hamstring injury. After perhaps unwisely being left out against Glamorgan, Craig Miles will expect to be in the final XI. Both sides will hope that the pitch offers something but, if it does, an opening attack of Worrall and Taylor will be a handful, with Miles as first change. Sussex will undoubtedly play the same XI save for the aforementioned enforced change of spinner. Gloucestershire will be delighted by the form of Ryan Higgins and the return to form of Bobby Bracey, but captain Chris Dent is struggling for runs and putting too much pressure on Benny Howell and Gareth Roderick at the top of the order.
Northamptonshire v Durham
Northamptonshire 13-man squad: Alex Wakely, Luke Procter, Richard Levi, Adam Rossington, Josh Cobb, Rob Keogh, Ben Duckett, Steven Crook, Doug Bracewell, Brett Hutton, Richard Gleeson, Ben Sanderson, Rob Newton.
Durham 12-man squad: Paul Collingwood, Aiden Markram, Cameron Steel, Will Smith, Graham Clark, Michael Richardson, Stuart Poynter, Nathan Rimmington, James Weighell, Chris Rushworth, Barry McCarthy, Josh Coughlin.
Both teams will be looking to bounce back from less than ideal starts to the season after Northants have lost both matches inside three days, whilst Durham were taken part by Kent in just two. Northants will be keen to occupy the crease better, starting at the top of the order with Rob Newton and Ben Duckett. Meanwhile, for Durham, Cameron Steel returns to the squad after missing last week’s fixture with illness, as Gareth Harte misses out. Aiden Markram will be looking to put a difficult match last week behind him, after becoming the first player to make a pair on their first day of the County Championship.
Weather Watch: Rain Friday and Saturday afternoon, cloud on Sunday before more rain forecast for Monday. Highs of around 9c.
Match Odds: Northamptonshire 8/11, Durham 11/10 (Betfair).
Leicestershire v Derbyshire
Leicestershire 12-man squad: Michael Carberry, Varun Aaron, Colin Ackermann, Mark Cosgrove, Ned Eckersley, Neil Dexter, Gavin Griffiths, Lewis Hill, Paul Horton, Dieter Klein, Callum Parkinson, Ben Raine.
Derbyshire 14-man squad: Billy Godleman, Ben Slater, Luis Reece, Wayne Madsen, Alex Hughes, Matt Critchley, Callum Brodrick, Gary Wilson, Tony Palladino, Ravi Rampaul, Hardus Viljoen, Duanne Olivier, Will Davis, Hamidullah Qadri.
Paceman Varun Aaron could make his Leicestershire debut for this East Midlands clash in place of Mohammed Abbas who joins up with Pakistan training squad in preparation for the test matches with England next month. Ned Eckersley returns to the squad after a groin injury kept him out of last week’s draw with Sussex. Harry Dearden and Richard Jones are both ruled out through injury. Derbyshire will be high on confidence after a rare home victory against Middlesex last week. The same 11 from that match remain in the squad, with the additions of Will Davis, Hamidullah Qadri and Callum Brodrick.
Rain on Friday, dry and overcast conditions on Saturday and Sunday with the risk of further rain on Monday. Highs of around 10c.
Leicestershire 11/10, Derbyshire 8/11 (Betfair).
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