Lancashire seek happy return to Aigburth
Lancashire will hope to enjoy further success at Aigburth when they begin the defence of their LV= County Championship title against Sussex this week.
The Red Rose won four out of six matches at the home of Liverpool Cricket Club last summer, when they were forced to play all eight home four-day games at outgrounds due to redevelopment work at Old Trafford.
Aigburth and Old Trafford will host four championship games each this year, with the former the venue for Lancashire’s opening two fixtures.
Head coach Peter Moores has named a 14-man squad for the visit of Sussex, with South African batsman Ashwell Prince the only player not to have featured in the 2011 title triumph.
Sussex, beaten by Surrey at the Kia Oval in their opening fixture, can call on England spinner Monty Panesar and Australian seamer Steve Magoffin for the first time this season, while Will Adkin has also been selected in a 13-man party.
Last year’s Division One runners-up Warwickshire also begin their campaign tomorrow, but they will be without fast bowlers Chris Woakes and Boyd Rankin when they welcome Somerset to Edgbaston.
The Bears are able to select New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel, however, following his return as the club’s overseas player.
Somerset have named an unchanged line-up, having defeated Middlesex by six wickets in their first outing of the season.
All-rounder Lewis Gregory continues to be troubled by a back problem, while former Gloucestershire paceman Gemaal Hussain is facing a further two weeks out with a hamstring injury.
Durham will be without Paul Collingwood when they kick off their campaign with a home game against Nottinghamshire.
Collingwood is suffering from a virus, but the north-east county are boosted by the availability of Ben Stokes, who has fully recovered from his finger injury.
Day three of the game coincides with the 20th anniversary of Durham’s opening first-class match, which began at the Parks against Oxford University on April 14 1992.
Head coach Geoff Cook is optimistic his side can improve on last year’s third-placed finish.
“From a personal point of view, the disappointments of last year being just about buried, the preparation for the new season has gone very well,” he explained.
“The attitude of the players reflects a resolve there to try and move on and go a couple of steps further than where we went last year when we featured in all competitions without pulling anything off materially.”
Steven Mullaney has been recalled to Nottinghamshire’s team.
The former Lancashire all-rounder replaces Riki Wessels, who has a broken finger, while Samit Patel returns from England duty in place of Graeme White.
Surrey welcome back England wicketkeeper Steven Davies for the trip to rivals Middlesex.
Davies, another member of England’s touring party in Sri Lanka, replaces Rory Burns in the only change to a 13-man group. Jason Roy and Tim Linley will hope to earn selection on this occasion after being overlooked for the triumph over Sussex.
Middlesex have also made a solitary alteration to their squad; Tom Smith replaces Adam London, who did not feature in last week’s defeat at Taunton.
Hampshire are without a trio of seam bowlers for the visit of Gloucestershire, their first game back in Division Two.
All-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas is representing Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League, while Kabir Ali and James Tomlinson are sidelined with respective foot and ankle injuries.
However, former Australia batsman Simon Katich is available as he begins another stint at the Ageas Bowl.
Gloucestershire’s bowling department has been strengthened by the return to fitness of left-arm paceman David Payne, who has overcome a knee problem that ruled him out of the club’s opening game at Essex.
Northamptonshire will again have to cope without captain Andrew Hall when they take on Kent at Wantage Road.
Hall missed last week’s defeat to Derbyshire with a calf strain and has failed to recover, meaning David Sales will continue to deputise as skipper.
Kent have included England off-spinner James Tredwell at the expense of Adam Riley.
Derbyshire are missing Tim Groenewald, who picked up a groin strain against Northants, for their match at Glamorgan, but Jonathan Clare returns.
The Welsh county have opted to rest Huw Waters, with fellow seamer Will Owen taking his place in a 12-man squad.