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    PREVIEW – Specsavers County Championship, May 25-29

    Six County Championship matches start tomorrow, including a top of the table clash in Division One...

    Just two matches in Division One this round, but it is here – specifically, at Chelmsford – that we get the marquee game of the round as 1st and 2nd lock horns...

    DIVISION ONE

    Essex v Surrey. Essex climbed above Surrey with their commanding innings victory over Hampshire last wicket, their second in four matches in their first Division One season since 2010 – while Surrey secured a battling draw against Middlesex at Lord’s, largely thanks to Kumar Sangakkara. He scored a century in each innings, making him only the fourth player in Surrey history to record four in consecutive first-class innings, and also the leading run-scorer in the Championship with 592 at an average of 98.67. So this match features a high-calibre head to head with Alastair Cook, who is averaging 67 for Essex.

    Somerset v Hampshire. An important game at the other end of the table, with Somerset bottom, and Hampshire slipping to fifth after their heavy defeat at Essex. Hampshire are unbeaten in 11 Championship matches in Somerset, although nine of them have been drawn. Reece Topley is set to replace Fidel Edwards after missing the game against his former county, and Jimmy Adams and Ian Holland are also added to their squad. Lewis Gregory could return for Somerset. 

    DIVISION TWO

    Glamorgan v Durham. Aussie seamer Michael Hogan has taken over the captaincy from South African batsman Jacques Rudolph of a Glamorgan team who have shown signs of improvement after a dreadful start to the season in recording consecutive draws, with Colin Ingram and Chris Cooke frustrating the Division Two leaders Nottinghamshire by batting throughout the last day in Cardiff on Monday. Durham lost Graham Onions with a back injury in suffering a heavy defeat at Sussex, and although they welcome Barry McCarthy back from Ireland international duty for their first Championship match at Glamorgan since 2004, they are still missing Michael Richardson and Jack Burnham.

    Kent v Sussex. Good weather forecast should guarantee big crowds at The Nevill Ground in Tunbridge Wells, between south coast rivals in good spirits. Kent are second in the table and snapping at the heels of leaders Notts, having thrashed Sussex at Canterbury last month. But Sussex finally emerged from their grim start to the season by thrashing Durham. That win was built on 268 by Luke Wells, the highest score of the county season so far, and he is set to make his 100th first-class appearance. Steve Magoffin is also fit again to offer even more seam options alongside Vernon Philander, Jofra Archer, Chris Jordan and David Wiese. For Kent, veteran all-rounder Darren Stevens remains the form man.

    Northamptonshire v Worcestershire – Worcestershire are the only team in either division with a 100% record after thrashing Derbyshire in the last round of matches, and a run of five consecutive wins stretching back to last September includes a tight victory in Northampton last month. Former captain Daryl Mitchell became the 25th man to pass 10,000 first class runs for the county at Derby. Northants are also handily placed with two wins from three games, and could have Adam Rossington, Rob Keogh and captain Alex Wakely back after injury.

     

    Nottinghamshire v Gloucestershire – Notts lost their 100% record when they were frustrated by Glamorgan in Cardiff on Monday. But they remain top of the table and retain plenty of seam bowling options, with Brett Hutton making an impressive first appearance of the season in Wales, and Stuart Broad still available to make a rare appearance against his father’s first county. Gloucestershire have suffered an injury blow with Liam Norwell, the seamer who has made such a good start to the season, ruled out alongside his regular new-ball partner David Payne. That could mean a first-class debut for Ollie Currell. Phil Mustard continues as captain.

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