Ambrose blow for title-chasing Warwickshire
Warwickshire will have to do without in-form wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Ambrose as they go in search of the LV= County Championship title against Worcestershire at New Road tomorrow.
The 29-year-old sustained a thigh injury in the lead up to the Bears’ 23-run Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-final victory over Lancashire on Saturday, leaving Richard Johnson with the task of taking over behind the stumps.
Jamaica-born seamer Recordo Gordon has been fast tracked into a 13-man squad which is lacking the services of England all-rounder Chris Woakes.
Jim Troughton’s side, 22 points clear at the top of Division One, will be crowned County Champions if they are victorious and both Sussex and Nottinghamshire fail to deliver wins against Somerset and Surrey respectively.
Ambrose, fresh from hitting an unbeaten century in his last four-day outing, told ecb.co.uk: “It’s very exciting. When you get to this stage of the season, you want to be involved in as much as you can, you don’t want to be playing dead rubbers.
“There is a lot for us to play for at the moment, so there is a good buzz about the place. We have played some excellent cricket to get to where we are and we will carry on that way.”
Struggling Worcestershire need to topple their local rivals to ease their relegation fears and have the option of recalling Vikram Solanki and Ben Scott.
Sussex have been boosted by the availability of England wicketkeeper Matt Prior against Somerset.
However, they will have to do without in-form all-rounder Luke Wright, who is on England duty along with Somerset’s Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler.
Marcus Trescothick’s outfit are also missing Nick Compton due to the back injury that could have ended his campaign.
Abdur Rehman, representing Pakistan in a one-day international against Australia in the United Arab Emirates today, is expected to play, with director of cricket Brian Rose driving him from Gatwick Airport to the PROBIZ County Ground.
Rehman will replace George Dockrell as the Ireland spinner starts his preparations for the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka next month.
Nottinghamshire have been given special permission to play England duo Alex Hales and Michael Lumb for the opening two days of their game with Surrey at the Kia Oval.
Samit Patel is also on international duty, while Andre Adams is set to miss the rest of the season with a calf problem.
Steven Davies has returned to fitness for Surrey, which may see Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Wilson make way.
All-rounder Tom Smith has labelled Lancashire’s trip to face Middlesex at Lord’s a must-win game as the champions - who have again omitted opener Stephen Moore from their party - look to fight off relegation.
“If we win two games, we will probably stay up and that will be a success,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“It’s simple - we have just got to win. Last year when we needed to get the job done in a few tight games, we came over the line. The squad is exactly the same and we still have the same mentality to our cricket.”
Impressive form in the Middlesex second XI has earned John Simpson a recall at the expense of Adam Rossington, while Ollie Rayner is back from a finger injury and Gurjit Sandhu boosts a bowling department that is without rested Ireland seamer Tim Murtagh.
Mark Footitt and Jonathan Clare are still sidelined as Division Two leaders Derbyshire look to confirm their place in the top flight for next season against third-placed Kent, who will be without England spinner James Tredwell at Canterbury.
Paceman Footitt and all-rounder Clare have back injuries and are stepping up their recoveries in a bid to be fit for next week’s visit of fellow promotion-chasers Hampshire.
Karl Krikken’s men will be promoted if they can secure more points than Kent and at least as many as Hampshire take at home to Essex.
Second-placed Yorkshire, 19 points behind Derbyshire, have Ryan Sidebottom available against Glamorgan at Headingley Carnegie.
The former England seamer, a late withdrawal from the White Rose team that defeated Gloucestershire at Scarborough last week, has recovered from back spasms, but Richard Pyrah is still absent with a hand injury.
Glamorgan have omitted spinner Robert Croft, batsman Marcus North, who has returned to Australia, and departing seamer James Harris, with John Glover, Andrew Salter and David Lloyd deputising; the latter two are set for their championship bows.
Mike Reed is also on standby as Huw Waters faces a late fitness test.
Danny Briggs and Neil McKenzie are notable absentees from Hampshire’s squad to face Essex at the Ageas Bowl.
Briggs is away on England duty and McKenzie has returned to South Africa, leaving James Vince and David Griffiths, without a four-day appearance since early May, to fill in.
David Masters continues to be hampered with a side complaint, but young pacemen Reece Topley and Tymal Mills are in the 12-man Essex squad.
A finger problem prevents Alex Wakely from representing Northamptonshire against Gloucestershire, still missing long-term injury victim Chris Dent, at Bristol.
Kyle Coetzer has been recalled while David Willey and Luke Evans play.