• Specsavers County Championship 3m

    Specsavers County Championship returns!

    After a month of solid T20 cricket, the County Championship returns on Sunday with seven matches. Get the lowdown on all the games…

    Chris Woakes is set to return for Warwickshire against Middlesex at Lord’s, while Jake Ball - another contender for England’s seam attack later in the summer - will lead Nottinghamshire’s attack against Derbyshire. Haseeb Hameed and Jos Buttler team up for Lancashire at Hampshire and Mark Stoneman has another chance to press his England claims for Surrey at Somerset.

    Division One

    Hampshire v Lancashire

    Third versus second as Lancashire aim to complete a double after an innings win in Manchester in June. For Hameed, it will mark a first senior appearance since the floodlit Championship round in late June. Read more about the Bolton Blocker’s early season struggles here. Liam Dawson is available for Hampshire after being omitted from England’s Test XI.

    Middlesex v Warwickshire

    Woakes will make his first appearance since suffering a side injury in the first match of England’s Champions Trophy campaign in early June – and also his first red-ball appearance of the season. Steven Finn, omitted from England’s Test XI at Old Trafford, will face him. Other notable contenders for places in the Bears team are Dominic Sibley, who has joined them on loan from Surrey, and Sidebottom, a 27-year-old Australian seamer with a British passport who has been playing in the Birmingham League. 

    Yorkshire v Essex

    Essex’s unexpected surge to the top of the Division One table has a strong Yorkshire influence, with Chris Silverwood head coach and Anthony McGrath his assistant. A sixth win of the season would represent another huge step towards the possibility of a first Championship since 1992. Their batting strength has been hit by the loss of Tom Westley and  Alastair Cook to England. But Yorkshire have injury problems to compound the absence of their England men Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, with captain Gary Ballance described as a major doubt by their coach Andrew Gale, Liam Plunkett sustaining a fresh hamstring injury in practice this week, and the Championship debut of Shaun Marsh likely to be delayed after he was hit on the head by a bouncer in the Blast. 

    Somerset v Surrey (starts Monday)

    The teams play a Blast match on Sunday in Taunton, then switch to red-ball combat on Monday. Somerset are still waiting for a visa for their new Pakistani signing Fakhar Zaman, but will be aiming to pick up where they left off with a notable win against Yorkshire in Scarborough in their last Championship match. Somerset also have a good recent Championship record against Gareth Batty’s team, winning three and drawing six of their last nine meetings. 

    Division Two

    Derbyshire v Nottinghamshire

    Ball is fit again after suffering a knee injury in Nottinghamshire’s last Championship match, a floodlit draw against Kent which consolidated their position at the top of the Division Two table. But they were lucky to escape with a draw in their home match against Derbyshire earlier in the season. Imran Tahir will be a familiar adversary in the Derbyshire team, but they have lost the Afghanistan-born off-spinner Hamidullah Qadri, who could make his debut for England Under-19s.

    Leicestershire v Durham

    First meeting of the season of the two teams who started with points deductions, and they are now level pegging on 44 points – joint bottom. Leicestershire have a strikingly dominant record of 11 wins in their 15 previous Championship meetings. New Zealand opener Tom Latham set to make his Championship debut for Durham after recovering from a foot problem, and seamer Brydon Carse could also return from injury, but Mark Wood is out.

    Northamptonshire v Gloucestershire

    Northants’ winning run ended in a high-scoring draw at Beckenham in their last Championship match, but they remain in promotion contention, 22 points behind second-placed Worcestershire with a game in hand. Gloucestershire’s head coach Richard Dawson has recalled five players who have yet to take the field in this season’s NatWest T20 Blast campaign for Sunday’s match at Northampton. With Cameron Bancroft unavailable and Michael Klinger rested, Chris Dent, Will Tavare, Gareth Roderick, Craig Miles and Liam Norwell all return to the squad and there is a first call up for Academy off spinner George Drissell. Josh Shaw, who is on loan from Yorkshire until the end of August, is also included.

    Worcestershire v Sussex

    After victory in their last Championship game against Leicestershire at Arundel, another win at second-placed Worcestershire would thrust Sussex into the promotion battle. They have won two and drawn two of their last four visits to New Road.

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