Petersen to miss championship opener
Somerset will be without overseas signing Alviro Petersen when they kick off yet another quest for a first LV= County Championship Division One title.
South Africa opening batsman Petersen, who has enjoyed spells with Glamorgan and Essex over the previous two years, will not arrive in time for the clash with Durham at the Emirates Durham ICG.
Following Somerset’s best-ever second-place finish last year, new director of cricket Dave Nosworthy was cautious about talk of a maiden top-flight title.
“I think one step at a time, baby steps. Last season’s last season. We need to play just as well if not better,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“Looking at the end outcome is always dangerous. (There’s) a lot of water to still go under the bridge. As a team we’re staying pretty focussed on small goals at the moment. Hopefully that will work out in the long run for us.”
Durham have a full-strength squad to choose from.
Durham squad: Paul Collingwood (captain), Mark Stoneman, Keaton Jennings, Will Smith, Dale Benkenstein, Ben Stokes, Michael Richardson, Phil Mustard, Scott Borthwick, Callum Thorp, Chris Rushworth, Graham Onions, Mark Wood.
Defending champions Warwickshire are missing key all-rounder Chris Woakes, who is unavailable following three months away with England, as well as seamers Keith Barker and Boyd Rankin against last year’s Division Two winners Derbyshire at Edgbaston.
Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Tom Milnes, whose 7-39 helped Warwickshire to a tense victory over Oxford MCCU last week, complete a pace triumvirate alongside Chris Wright.
Warwickshire XI: Varun Chopra, Ian Westwood, Will Porterfield, Jim Troughton (captain), Laurie Evans, Tim Ambrose, Rikki Clarke, Tom Milnes, Jeetan Patel, Chris Wright, Oliver Hannon-Dalby.
Derbyshire have a couple of selection headaches as they weigh up whether to reward their two pre-season stars, batsman Chesney Hughes and seamer Mark Turner, with places in the XI.
Derbyshire squad: Wayne Madsen (captain), Billy Godleman, Chesney Hughes, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Wes Durston, Dan Redfern, Ross Whiteley, David Wainwright, Tom Poynton, Jonathan Clare, Tony Palladino, Tim Groenewald, Mark Turner.
Ed Cowan and Ajmal Shahzad will make their championship bows for Nottinghamshire against Middlesex at Trent Bridge.
Cowan gets the nod ahead of Neil Edwards while Shahzad completes a seam quartet also featuring Luke Fletcher, Andre Adams and Andy Carter.
Meanwhile, Riki Wessels has been picked ahead of Steven Mullaney, with Harry Gurney, Paul Franks and Ben Phillips also missing out.
Notts XI: Alex Hales, Ed Cowan, Michael Lumb, James Taylor, Samit Patel, Riki Wessels, Chris Read (captain), Ajmal Shahzad, Luke Fletcher, Andre Adams, Andy Carter.
Middlesex are set to hand a debut to winter signing James Harris but are minus Eoin Morgan, who is at the Indian Premier League.
Middlesex squad: Chris Rogers (captain), Gareth Berg, Joe Denly, Neil Dexter, James Harris, Dawid Malan, Tim Murtagh, Ollie Rayner, Sam Robson, Toby Roland-Jones, Gurjit Sandhu, John Simpson.
The other promoted side, Yorkshire, will be without Tim Bresnan as he continues his recovery from a shoulder injury, yet new signings Jack Brooks and Liam Plunkett are set to make their championship debuts for the county.
Brooks and Plunkett both impressed in an emphatic victory over Leeds/Bradford MCCU last week and should take their place in the XI against Sussex at Headingley.
Speaking about what awaits in Division One, first-team coach Jason Gillespie said: “I'm sure it will be a massive challenge for us. You have just got to look at the squads in Division One, there are some big counties.
“We have certainly got our work cut out. But we believe if we play good, positive and aggressive cricket, then that will give us the best chance of performing well.”
Yorkshire squad: Andrew Gale (captain), Moin Ashraf, Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance, Jack Brooks, Phil Jaques, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Steven Patterson, Liam Plunkett, Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ryan Sidebottom.
Sussex have England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar available and could give debuts to winter signings Rory Hamilton-Brown, Chris Jordan and Andrew Miller.
Leg-spinner Will Beer is unavailable due to injuries to both his ankle and hamstring. Seamer Lewis Hatchett has recovered from a recent knee injury but is not in this week’s squad.
Sussex squad: James Anyon, Ben Brown, Joe Gatting, Rory Hamilton-Brown, Chris Jordan, Ed Joyce (captain), Chris Liddle, Steve Magoffin, Andrew Miller, Chris Nash, Monty Panesar, Luke Wells, Michael Yardy.