Warwickshire aiming for summit
Warwickshire will be looking to go top of the LV= County Championship when they take on defending champions Nottinghamshire at Edgbaston.
Jim Troughton’s men lie just seven points behind leaders Durham, who are not in action this week, heading into the penultimate round of championship fixtures.
Warwickshire would have moved to the summit of Division One with victory over lowly Yorkshire last week but they had to settle for a share of the spoils in a high-scoring encounter.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul added to his 193 against the same opposition the week before with 110 and an unbeaten 56 but it was not enough as Warwickshire could not complete the double over Yorkshire.
Victory this week would put Warwickshire in pole position for their first title since 2004, but title rivals Lancashire will be eager to take advantage of any slip-ups.
The Red Rose host rock-bottom Hampshire at Liverpool as they bid to recover from last week’s crushing loss at Worcestershire.
Lancashire were overtaken by both Durham and Warwickshire following their 10-wicket defeat at New Road, although they are still firmly in the mix for their first outright title in 77 years.
A win at Aigburth would take them above Durham but they must overcome a resurgent Hampshire side who, despite their lowly league position, are one of the form teams in the championship with three victories and a draw in their last four matches ato give them hope of avoiding relegation.
Young left-arm spinner Danny Briggs makes his comeback from a shoulder injury for Hampshire. He replaces Imran Tahir, who has returned for pre-season training with South Africa, while seamer Chris Wood is a doubt with a back injury.
Somerset saw their title chances all but evaporate following an innings-and-61-run loss to Hampshire on their last outing, although they will be pushing for a strong finish against Yorkshire.
Their chances are hindered by the absence of captain and opener Marcus Trescothick, who continues his recovery from an ankle injury, while Nick Compton remains absent with a side strain.
The clash at Headingley Carnegie will be the White Rose’s last of the season and even victory is unlikely to save them from the drop.
Worcestershire and Sussex, who meet at New Road, are more confident of not slipping into Division Two as they hold 14- and 17-point advantages over Yorkshire respectively.
Matt Machan is in line to make his championship debut for Sussex, who are missing the injured Wayne Parnell and Luke Wright.
In Division Two, Middlesex will seal promotion if they beat Glamorgan at the SWALEC Stadium.
Middlesex leapt to the top of the table after thumping struggling Leicestershire by 10 wickets last week. Such was their dominance at Lord’s that the visitors did not collect a single point from the encounter.
With a 26-point gap between Middlesex and third-placed Surrey, Middlesex are almost certain to finish in the promotion places and have named a squad unchanged from last week.
Surrey will hope to reduce the 23-point gap to second-placed Northamptonshire, who are inactive this week, when they take on Essex at Chelmsford.
The visitors, who reached the Clydesdale Bank 40 final after beating Sussex on Sunday, must win to keep their slim promotion hopes alive and - like Middlesex - have kept faith with the same squad.
Essex, meanwhile, have added Tymal Mills and Reece Topley to the side that was beaten by six wickets at Kent, while Maurice Chambers is omitted.
Pride is the only thing to play for at Derby, where Derbyshire host a Kent side missing the injured Rob Key, Martin van Jaarsveld and James Tredwell.
The same could be said of the clash between Leicestershire - guaranteed to pick up the wooden spoon - and Gloucestershire at Bristol.