County Championship preview: Swann returns for Nottinghamshire

County Championship preview: There is little time to dwell on recent results as three more games get underway on Monday

Ryan Bailey
By Ryan Bailey

Nottinghamshire v Durham – Trent Bridge

Nottinghamshire kick-started their season with a straight forward win over Derby last week and will be further boosted by the return of Graeme Swann for the visit of Durham, who will be low on confidence after throwing away last week’s game to Yorkshire. Swann will add an extra dimension to an already strong Notts bowling attack which will once again include Stuart Broad and Harry Gurney. The Trent Bridge side will hope to challenge for honours come the end of the season and they must make home advantage count if they are to fulfil their potential. Andre Adams is the main absentee for the Outlaws after suffering a calf injury against Derbyshire and is replaced by Ajmal Shahzad whilst Steven Mullaney also comes into the squad along with Swann.

Durham have suffered back-to-back defeats now and despite an improved display against Yorkshire, they slumped to a defeat. Paul Collingwood’s side are short on confidence especially with the bat and Saturday’s events at Chester-le-Street won’t put them in good stead for a tough visit to Trent Bridge. Geoff Cook is unlikely to make any changes to the side that suffered that narrow defeat to Yorkshire.

Did you know? Graham Onions has taken 80 wickets for Durham in the LV= County Championship since the start of last season, more than any other player in either division.

Yorkshire v Derbyshire – Headingley

The two promoted teams from last year meet at Headingley and Andrew Gale has warned his Yorkshire side not to rest on their laurels after somehow coming away from Durham with a victory. The White Rose chased down 336 to beat the hosts at Chester-le-Street thanks to Joe Root’s 182 and have seemingly banished memories of a round one defeat to Sussex. Yorkshire will now be looking to kick-start their season as they hope to consolidate their Division One status and avoid being dragged into an early-season relegation dog fight. The Tykes have made one change from the squad that defeated Durham on Saturday, with fast-bowler Ryan Sidebottom rested and all-rounder Richard Pyrah drafted into the squad as his replacement. All eyes will be once again on England duo Root and Bairstow ahead of a busy international summer.

Derbyshire’s return to the top-flight hasn’t gone according to plan as of yet and Saturday’s comprehensive defeat to Nottinghamshire highlighted the big task facing Karl Krikken’s side this season. The Falcons have been boosted by the news Tony Palladino is fit to travel to Headingley despite suffering a toe injury in the loss to Notts while Chesney Hughes and Mark Footitt are in contention after being called into the 13-man squad.

Did you know? Yorkshire are unbeaten in nine home games in the LV= County Championship (W4, D5) however they have failed to win any of their last four at home against Derbyshire (D3, L1).

Essex v Hampshire – Chelmsford

After a draw and a defeat in the opening two LV= County Championship matches of the season, Essex are desperate for victory when they welcome in-form Hampshire to Chelmsford. Coach Paul Grayson labelled his side’s performance against Northants as “unacceptable” and expect to see a reaction from a talented outfit who seem to lack unity.
However, they will be boosted by the presence of England captain Alastair Cook at the top of the innings, while David Masters returns from injury to lead the bowling attack. Considering their start to the season, there is no real surprise Grayson has made a couple of changes to the squad. Sajid Mahmood is named in the 12-man squad and is set to make his Essex debut following his signing from Lancashire during the close season while Tom Craddock is ruled out because of a badly bruised finger.

Hampshire name an unchanged squad for their trip to Chelmsford, and why not, having dominated Leicestershire and Worcestershire in their opening two matches of the season. All eyes will be on wicketkeeper-batsman, Adam Wheater who returns to face his old colleagues after leaving the North London county in the winter. The Royals look an incredibly impressive side already this season and are many people’s favourites to secure promotion to the top-flight. Their batting line-up which includes James Vince, Jimmy Adams and George Bailey will look to cash in on favourable batting conditions at Chelmsford and a workman like Essex attack.

Did you know? Hampshire’s two-run win at Essex in last year’s LV= County Championship was their second win in three visits to Chelmsford. They had failed to win any of the previous eight.

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