County championship preview: Broad back to lead Nottinghamshire attack
County championship: With the long winter now behind us, the games are coming thick and fast as the season gets into full swing
Derbyshire v Nottinghamshire – The County Ground
Derbyshire will be looking to bounce back from last week’s disappointing loss to Middlesex when they welcome Nottinghamshire to the County Ground for their first home game back in Division One. The Falcons will be hoping to claim their first win of the new campaign against their local rivals who they last met in the County Championship in September 2007. Head coach Karl Krikken has made just the one change from the defeat at Lord’s, as all-rounder Chesney Hughes misses out in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire head into the game after suffering a loss to Middlesex in the opening week but they bounced back with an emphatic victory over Durham MCCU in last week’s first-class friendly, with a number of players catching the eye with impressive performances. The Trent Bridge outfit are bolstered by the availability of Stuart Broad. The England bowler has been given dispensation by the ECB to play for Notts in the next two matches. Graeme Swann is nearing fitness after his elbow operation and his return to duty is being assessed on a daily basis. Otherwise Mick Newell has a full strength squad to select from, with Steven Mullaney pushing for a place amongst the batsmen after his century against Durham MCCU. Competition for the bowling spots remains as competitive as ever, with Harry Gurney impressing against the students after missing the Middlesex match.
Did you know? Nottinghamshire are unbeaten in their four visits to Derbyshire in the LV= County Championship two-division era, winning the last three and the last two by an innings.
Durham v Yorkshire – Chester-le-Street
Durham welcome local rivals Yorkshire to the Riverside after a mixed start to the season which has seen them beat Somerset before suffering a heavy defeat at Edgbaston last week. Paul Collingwood’s side showed their ability with both bat and ball in the season opener but familiar cracks appeared in their batting line-up against Warwickshire.
Geoff Cook has named an unchanged 12-man squad for the game despite the poor display against the County Champions. Graham Onions will once again spearhead the bowling attack while the top order will be desperate for runs.
Yorkshire’s return to Division One didn’t start as they would have hoped as they were emphatically beaten by Sussex at Headingley but the return of England trio Tim Bresnan, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow is a massive boost for the White Rose county. While Bairstow played in the opening round defeat to Sussex, Bresnan and Root will be making their first Championship appearances of the summer up in the North East. Azeem Rafiq has been side-lined for six weeks, so Adil Rashid could get the opportunity to impress while Liam Plunkett returns to the club where he spent a decade at.
Did you know? Yorkshire have won eight of their 14 away trips to play Durham in the LV= County Championship, with Durham picking up just three wins in this head-to-head (three draws).
Surrey v Sussex – The Kia Oval
All eyes will be once again on Graeme Smith as he leads his side into battle against Sussex at the Oval. The South African experienced a difficult debut last week as he lasted just three balls against Somerset and will be eager to show his undoubted batting ability to the Surrey faithful. Chris Adams has named an unchanged 13-man squad with England bowler Chris Tremlett pushing to be included after sitting out the draw with Somerset. Otherwise, Surrey are expected to name an unchanged side.
Having beaten Yorkshire at Headingley in their opening fixture by an innings and 12 runs, Sussex made the perfect start to the new campaign and will be aiming to continue their run against Surrey. Matt Prior returns to the Sussex squad while Chris Jordan and Rory Hamilton-Brown will play against the club they left during the winter.
Did you know? Sussex have recorded just 27 wins over Surrey in the history of the LV= County Championship, their lowest win rate (13.6%) against any county, their last away win coming in 1994.
Hampshire v Worcestershire – Ageas Bowl
Hampshire were extremely unlucky not to start their quest for promotion with a victory over Leicestershire in the opening round of fixtures but rain thwarted the Royals. Last season’s limited-overs double winners have targeted success in the four-day game this term and last week’s comprehensive win over Loughborough MCCU emphasised their title credentials. Giles White has selected the same 12-man squad that was in contention for the visit of the Foxes. However, David Griffiths – the man who missed out in that match – strengthened his claim for a starting place with a five-wicket haul against Loughborough. James Vince has been in fine form with the bat already, having scored back-to-back centuries while overseas signing George Bailey will hope to build on his impressive debut.
It’s been a difficult start to life back in the second tier for Worcestershire – after a hard-fought draw at Old Trafford, they suffered a disappointing defeat at Cardiff last week. Steve Rhodes has no new injury worries ahead of the trip to Southampton but has opted to select right-arm bowler Richard Jones instead of Dave Lucas. With the ball, veteran Alan Richardson leads the visitors’ wicket-taking list with five at an average of 33.6. He took nine match wickets against Hampshire when the two sides met at New Road in Division One two years ago so the hosts will be more than aware of the threat he poses.
Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire – Bristol
Division Two leaders Northamptonshire travel to Bristol this week, looking to continue their impressive start to the season against Gloucestershire, who themselves enjoyed a solid opening game performance at Essex. Their rain affected draw at Chelmsford will have given heart to all at Bristol after a dismal 2012 campaign. Craig Miles has been named in their 12-man squad for club’s first home game of the season. The 18-year-old bowling all-rounder replaces James Fuller, who suffered a broken finger against Essex. Young wicket-keeper Cameron Herring is once again selected ahead of Richard Coughtrie while much will depend on the runs of Hamish Marshall in the middle-order.
The season could hardly have started better for Northants as they find themselves as the early pacesetters in Division Two. A rain-affected draw in Cardiff was followed up by a crushing defeat of Essex. Unsurprisingly, David Ripley has revealed the same XI that played at Chelmsford will line-up against Gloucestershire. Steven Crook, David Willey and Trent Copeland will be hoping to continue their fantastic start with the ball during the first game of the season at Wantage Road.
Did you know? Liam Norwell recorded career best first-class match figures of 8-74 in Gloucestershire’s 207-run win over Northamptonshire in last season’s corresponding fixture.
Lancashire v Kent – Old Trafford
After a stuttering start to life back in Division Two, Lancashire will be keen to get their season up and running when Kent visit Old Trafford. There was a feeling of dejà vu for the red rose county as their opening fixture against Worcestershire was severely affected by weather, one of the factors that led to relegation last term. However, they will face a stern test against a very talented and experienced Kent outfit, who many have tipped to be title contenders this summer.
The home side are boosted by the availability of James Anderson, especially considering their poor bowling display against Worcestershire in the opening game. Otherwise, Peter Moores is likely to name an unchanged side. Like Lancashire, Kent have played just one game this campaign and had to settle for a weather-affected draw at Leicestershire. However, Rob Key, West Indian Brendan Nash and Geraint Jones have already scored runs in the early stages of the season while James Tredwell will be their main threat with the ball.
Did you know? Kent have not won at Old Trafford in the LV= County Championship since 1997, their only away win against Lancashire since then coming in Liverpool.