By Dominic Farrell
Nottinghamshire and Lancashire will both be without experienced seam options for the LV= County Championship Division One curtain-raiser at Trent Bridge.
The hosts are missing Australia paceman Peter Siddle due to visa issues, while Glen Chapple and Kyle Hogg – Lancashire’s productive new-ball pairing for the majority of last season’s promotion campaign – are out due to respective hamstring and calf complaints.
It is therefore a timely boost for the Red Rose to have England’s James Anderson available, although the country’s limited-overs wicketkeeper Jos Buttler is rested and must wait for a debut following his move from Somerset.
Paul Horton will captain in Chapple’s absence, with Alex Davies resuming wicketkeeping duties having impressed upon his first-team breakthrough last year.
England’s Michael Lumb is ready to readjust to the longer format following a winter of white-ball cricket, while James Taylor’s absence from the Notts batting line-up due to a side strain will be offset by new signing Phil Jaques.
“I played with Phil before when I was at Yorkshire,” said Lumb on Nottinghamshire’s official website. “He’s an excellent player with a great record, the perfect man to have on board. He’s fitting in well and will be solid at the top of the order.”
Another player from the World Twenty20 is Eoin Morgan, who will line up alongside England colleague Steven Finn when Middlesex travel to Sussex, who are without Test gloveman Matt Prior through injury.
Prior, who this week committed to a new contract with the south-coast club, has an Achilles problem so Ben Brown will keep wicket. Other England men, Chris Jordan, who flew home from the World Twenty20 this week and is rested at his country's request, and Luke Wright, who has a side injury, are missing along with Chris Nash, the latter due to a ruptured appendix.
Australia’s Ashes opener Chris Rogers is back to skipper Middlesex and will resume a fruitful alliance with Sam Robson, who hopes to further press his own international claims on the back of a productive winter with the England Performance Programme and England Lions.
Despite Jordan's absence, Rogers and Robson must repel one of the most clinical seam attacks in the championship. Like Jordan, Steve Magoffin and James Anyon burst through the 50-wicket barrier in 2013 and are set to line up alongside winter recruit Jon Lewis.
Captain Graeme Smith will lead Surrey into the Graham Ford era against Glamorgan in Division Two at the Kia Oval, in what will be a landmark occasion for Mark Wallace.
The visiting wicketkeeper and captain will become the first player since Middlesex’s Clive Radley in 1976 to appear in 200 consecutive championship games – a run stretching back to his call-up as a late replacement for Adrian Shaw in Glamorgan’s match against Kent at Maidstone in 2001.
Glamorgan’s director of cricket and chief executive Hugh Morris said: “It will be a truly outstanding achievement by Mark to play in 200 consecutive County Championship matches for Glamorgan. It will also be a testament to his consistency behind the stumps, his skill levels and his fitness.”
Surrey fast bowler Jade Dernbach will be rested following his exertions in the World T20, leaving Chris Tremlett and Stuart Meaker – who claimed astonishing match figures of 9-44 in this week’s warm-up win over Loughborough MCCU – to spearhead the pace attack. Veteran batsman Vikram Solanki misses the game for family reasons.
Batsmen Will Smith and Joe Gatting are in line to make their Hampshire debuts having been named in the squad to face Worcestershire at the Ageas Bowl. Gatting's last two championship centuries both came against tomorrow's opposition.
Matt Coles will play his first match for the hosts since making his successful loan switch from Kent permanent, while fellow seamer James Tomlinson is one-wicket away from reaching 300 first-class dismissals for Hampshire.
Worcestershire's attack begins life without Alan Richardson after Division Two's highest wicket-taker last season opted to end his playing career and take up a coaching role at Warwickshire.
Moeen Ali is set to return to county action having broken into the England set-up over the winter. Having flown home from the World T20 this week, Moeen will hope to pick up where he left off last term as 1,375 runs made him the highest run-scorer in either division.
The match between Leicestershire and Derbyshire at Grace Road has been postponed after Derbyshire wicketkeeper Tom Poynton was involved in a serious road accident in which his father, Keith, was killed.
LV= County Championship facts
Hampshire have won five of their last seven home championship matches against Worcestershire, including an innings victory last season.
One of Sussex’s last eight home championship matches against Middlesex have been drawn. Sussex have four wins in this time, Middlesex three.
Eight of the last 12 championship meetings between Surrey and Glamorgan at The Oval have been drawn (Surrey three wins, Glamorgan one).
Four of Division One’s seven highest run-scorers in 2013 played for Sussex or Middlesex: Sam Robson, Ed Joyce, Chris Nash and Chris Rogers.
Three of the seven bowlers to take 50 Division One wickets in 2013 played for Sussex: Steve Magoffin, Chris Jordan and James Anyon.
Chris Rogers and Sam Robson recorded the highest opening partnership of the 2013 championship season – 259 against Surrey at Lord’s.
Andre Adams hit the most sixes in Division One last year – 17, six more than anyone else.
Moeen Ali was the highest run-scorer across both divisions in 2013. He hit 1,375 runs at an average of 62.5.
Worcestershire had Division Two’s highest run-scorer and wicket-taker (Moeen Ali and Alan Richardson).
Of bowlers to deliver at least 50 overs in Division Two last year, only Trent Copeland (18.3) had a lower average than Kyle Hogg (18.4).