Six games in the County Championship, which start tomorrow. With the top two Essex and Surrey out of action, can the rest catch up?
Hampshire v Warwickshire
Hampshire climbed to third in the table with a spin-inspired victory against Somerset in Taunton, but have lost Liam Dawson and James Vince to the England Lions one-day series against South Africa A. Ian Holland, an Australian all-rounder who rose to prominence through a reality television programme, could make his first-class debut, and Matt Salisbury is also added to the squad. Warwickshire have William Porterfield back from Ireland duty, and Boyd Rankin is also nearing a return after injury, but Jeetan Patel has joined New Zealand’s Champions Trophy squad.
HAMPSHIRE WIN BY 90 RUNS!— County Championship (@CountyChamp) May 28, 2017
What. A. Match. 👏 👏 pic.twitter.com/P2MzhyoKPR
Middlesex v Somerset
The champions are still looking for their first win of the season despite having the better of their two games at Lord’s so far against Essex and Surrey, but their cricket director Angus Fraser remains sanguine as they have games in hand on all the teams above them. Dawid Malan and Steven Finn are away with England Lions, and Sam Robson is still injured, but Toby Roland-Jones remains available to lead the attack after his impressive England debut at Lord’s on Monday, and Paul Stirling and Tim Murtagh are back from Ireland duty.
Somerset are bottom of the table after suffering a third defeat in four matches at home to Hampshire last weekend, and have lost Craig Overton to the Lions. “There is no doubt we have to stop the rot and do it quickly,” says their director of cricket Matthew Maynard, who sticks with his experienced batsmen despite their collective lack of runs.
Yorkshire v Lancashire
Yorkshire remain one place and now six points behind Lancashire after the draw between these teams at Emirates Old Trafford two weeks ago, and will select from the same 11 plus experienced seamer Steven Patterson. Lancashire are missing their first-choice new-ball pair after Jimmy Anderson suffered a calf injury in that game and with Kyle Jarvis also out, and Liam Livingstone is playing for England Lions. But Jordan Clark may return after a back injury.
Durham v Northamptonshire
Northants are missing Ben Duckett on Lions duty, and Richard Levi who suffered concussion during their home defeat by Worcestershire in the last round of matches. Durham remain 48 points adrift at the bottom of the table after suffering their third defeat in four matches in Cardiff on Monday, which means they have erased exactly half of the 48-point penalty imposed over the winter.
Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire
Table-topping Notts are forced to make one change from the team who demolished Gloucestershire to claim a fourth win in five matches, with Stuart Broad taking a break under instructions from England. Left-armer Luke Wood is likely to make his first Championship appearance of the season. Derbyshire ended their losing run in a high-scoring draw against Leicestershire but are still missing a number of injured seamers and are set to hand a debut to Conor McKerr, who joined them on loan from Surrey this week.
Sussex v Worcestershire
Both teams released significant statements this morning – Sussex announcing that Luke Wright has resigned as captain, and Worcestershire confirming that Tom Kohler-Cadmore is to join Yorkshire next season. Chris Nash takes over from Wright, while Kohler-Cadmore is omitted from Worcestershire’s squad, with Ross Whiteley set to make his first Championship appearance of the season. The visitors are on a six-match winning run stretching back to last season, whereas Sussex are way off the promotion pace having suffered a third defeat in four matches against Kent in Tunbridge Wells.