Two recent champions, Warwickshire and Lancashire, will seek to get their LV= County Championship campaigns back on track when they meet in one of three top-flight games starting tomorrow.
The 2012 winners, who are sixth in the table, host the team they inherited the trophy from. The Red Rose, having since been relegated and promoted, are second from bottom in Division One.
Lancashire will have Jos Buttler back in their ranks for the meeting at Edgbaston with a side shorn of Ian Bell and Chris Woakes due to their being in England’s squad for the first Investec Test with Sri Lanka.
Buttler missed out on a place in England’s five-day party and will be aiming to further push his case as he returns to red-ball action.
The 2012 champions will have to do without James Anderson, however, as he spearheads the charge versus the tourists at Lord’s.
Warwickshire director of cricket Dougie Brown told ecb.co.uk: “It is an important game. Every Division One game is an important game. We played them up there and came away with a draw, which was a bit frustrating.
“Hopefully it is decent weather and we can produce a solid performance over four days. We have seen this year in the championship it has been topsy-turvy, a lot of teams are beating each other. That is testament to the strength of the championship at the moment.
“There are a lot of teams that are very, very strong. If you give them an opportunity to get into the game, then they are good enough to take and they only need one opportunity.
“They are maybe down the bottom at the championship at the moment, but we know they are a quality side. We need to make sure that we’re a quality side over four days.”
Lancashire batsman Steven Croft, who has helped the Lightning towards the top the NatWest T20 Blast North Group, told ecb.co.uk: “We’ve not got the start we’ve wanted (in the championship). We haven’t seemed to have got the batting points we’ve wanted – the bowling has been up there this year.
“It’s a big game and hopefully we can take some of our Twenty20 form into the four-day stuff.
“We’ve had a tough start, a bit of a slow start, but we are desperate to turn it around.
“It’s tough to explain. Everyone seems to be hitting them all right and then it comes to the game and we’ve not got the runs on the board that we’ve needed really.
“There’s no excuses really; we should back ourselves to bat on any pitch you come up on. It’s not through lack of effort; I think it is more a concentration thing. Maybe once we get a partnership we have to extend it, but we are definitely shy on runs and batting points. Hopefully that is something we can turn around.”
“Most of the team are proven scorers. It has happened in the past. It’s just a case of everyone getting themselves going. In 2011 when we won it everyone chipped in – we didn’t rely on one person. Everyone needs to dig in and get the runs together.”
Sussex will be without Michael Yardy for their clash with unbeaten Somerset at Taunton.
The loss of Yardy, who is set to be out of action for a month after tearing a muscle in his bicep, further depletes a side shorn of England pair Matt Prior and Chris Jordan.
Third-placed Somerset have no players in England’s squad for the opening Test of the summer and will be hoping to continue their fine start to the season.
Yorkshire are minus three of their stars versus Nottinghamshire at Headingley due to England duty.
Joe Root, Gary Ballance and Liam Plunkett were all named in Peter Moores’ 12-man squad. The White Rose are also without Ryan Sidebottom, who continues to be sidelined by a hamstring problem.
— Yorkshire CCC (@Yorkshireccc) June 7, 2014
LV= County Championship facts
Lancashire are unbeaten in their last 11 away championship matches against Warwickshire, winning six and drawing five. This is despite losing the toss nine times in those 11 games.
Somerset recorded the first championship opening partnership above 300 - Lionel Palairet and Herbie Hewett in 1892 – but none of the 53 that have occurred since.
Nine of the last 11 toss-winners in championship matches at Headingley have elected to field first.
Lancashire and Warwickshire are two of the three most successful teams in Division One history. They have won 62 and 63 matches in the top tier in the two-division era (Sussex 62).
Nick Compton’s average of 62 since the start of 2011 is the highest in the championship, minimum 30 matches played.