With the county season set to get underway tomorrow, albeit in decidedly wintery conditions, we round-up the latest news and squad announcements ahead of the first six matches of 2013.
Fixtures: (all matches start at 1100BST, 1000GMT)
Cambridge MCCU v Essex at Fenner’s
Essex have named Australian overseas player Rob Quiney, who only arrived in England on Tuesday, in their 12 for the trip to The Parks, with opening batsman Jaik Mickleburgh and fast-bowlers Sajid Mahmood and Reece Topley missing out.
Essex coach Paul Grayson said, “We’ve picked the best side for tomorrow’s game and unfortunately, some players miss out. We are really pleased with how Saj [Mahmood] and Reece [Topley] have bowled plus how Jaik [Mickleburgh] has been batting pre-season and they are all first-team players obviously. We want competition for places and we’ve got two very good bowlers and a batsman who are unlucky not to be playing tomorrow.”
Essex squad: Tom Westley, Rob Quiney, Ben Foakes, Ravi Bopara, Mark Pettini, James Foster (captain), Greg Smith, Graham Napier, David Masters, Maurice Chambers, Tymal Mills, Tom Craddock.
Durham v Durham MCCU at Chester-le-Street
Durham haven’t named their squad for the traditional match against the local university. However, one man who is likely to feature is leg-spinner Scott Borthwick, who is now the county’s main spinner following Ian Blackwell’s retirement.
Speaking to the local press recently, the 22 year-old professed himself to be buzzing ahead of the new season: “I cannot wait. I am really looking forward to doing my best for Durham. I am buzzing, I really want the season to start,” he said. “I was the leading spinner in the Twenty20 last year when Blackie (Blackwell) was not there. It brought a bit of maturity out of me. I know now if there is going to be spin bowled, I will be the one bowling it. I will not be standing at slip hoping to get a bowl. That is a massive confidence boost. Hopefully, I can kick on in that role.”
Glamorgan v Cardiff MCCU at Cardiff
Glamorgan have chosen close to a full strength side for their hosting of Cardiff MCCU. Overseas player Marcus North is included as is eagerly anticipated new signing Michael Hogan. The students’ squad includes Glamorgan off-spinner Andrew Salter, with Middlesex batsman Andrew Balbirnie and Kent’s Fabian Cowdrey among the other players included.
Glamorgan squad: Will Bragg, Gareth Rees, Stewart Walters, Marcus North, Ben Wright, Jim Allenby, Mark Wallace (captain), John Glover, Dean Cosker, Huw Waters, Mike Reed, Michael Hogan.
Oxford MCCU v Warwickshire at The Parks
The reigning champions have chosen to rest much of their first-choice pace attack following their exertions against the MCC in Abu Dhabi. Youngsters Tom Allin, Ricardo Gordon, Shozair Ali, Tom Milnes and Jack Grundy are all included in the 12-man squad to face Oxford MCCU as is new signing Oliver Hannon-Dalby. 18 year-old Pete McKay, who kept wicket for part of the Champion County match against the MCC, is also included as Warwickshire continue their search for an understudy to Tim Ambrose.
Warwickshire squad: Varun Chopra, Ian Westwood, William Porterfield, Jim Troughton (captain), Laurie Evans, Tim Ambrose, Tom Milnes, Pete McKay, Shozair Ali, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Ricardo Gordon, Tom Allin, Jack Grundy.
Sussex v Loughborough MCCU at Hove
The focus in the build-up to the game has been on Rory Hamilton-Brown, who returns to Hove after a turbulent period at Surrey. He spoke of the more caring environment that the newly named BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground offers.
"I needed to play in a place where I felt like people cared about you and they wanted you around," he told the Press Association. "Ultimately I think that kind of care and love when you go through tough times brings the best out of you. It's easy when you go through a time like that to feel quite isolated and alone. I've been on a road of discovery, which has been brilliant in some ways, but I'm really looking forward to being back on the pitch. It's not going to be something you're going to get over overnight - it's not something you ever get over - but for me it was imperative that I went away and had a look at myself, what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and the rest of my career."
The Sussex squad includes both new signings Andrew Miller and Chris Jordan, with Ed Joyce included as captain alongside his deputy Chris Nash.
Sussex squad: Ed Joyce (captain), Chris Nash, Joe Gatting, Luke Wells, Rory Hamilton-Brown, Michael Yardy, Ben Brown, Chris Jordan, James Anyon, Andrew Miller, Chris Liddle, Steve Magoffin.
Yorkshire v Leeds/Bradford MCCU at Headingley
Yorkshire have chosen to rest Australian Phil Jaques from their first official fixture of 2013, with young opener Alex Lees his replacement. The rest of the side is much as expected, with both winter signings Liam Plunkett and Jack Brooks included. Leeds/Bradford MCCU have two former Yorkshire players in their squad in the forms of Charlie Roebuck and James Lee. They may also pick Zafir Patel, who was contracted to Delhi Daredevils for last year’s IPL but didn’t play a match.
Yorkshire squad: Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Joe Sayers, Andrew Gale (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance, Adil Rashid, Azeem Rafiq, Liam Plunkett, Ryan Sidebottom, Jack Brooks, Steve Patterson.
County Cricket News In Brief:
Glamorgan all-rounder Jim Allenby has admitted that he “considered his future” at the club after being stripped of the Twenty20 captaincy following 2012. However, he added that he has since “accepted the decision and moved on and is 100% behind his replacements Mark [Wallace] and Marcus [North].”
Gloucestershire CCC have appointed former England selector David Graveney to their executive board. He will replace Jack Russell, who has chosen to step down because of his current business commitments. Also appointed is Charles Cook, a corporate, media and sports lawyer from Bristol.
The club have also announced that former players Ian Harvey and Mike Smith will be joining them in a part-time coaching capacity. Harvey will help the side with their “one-day skills”, while Smith will work with the pace bowlers.
Somerset CCC chairman Andy Nash has been elected to serve on the main committee of the ECB. The committee comprises the chairmen of three Test match playing counties and three non Test match playing counties, one of whom is now Nash.
Sussex have signed former Warwickshire and Lancashire seam-bowler Andrew Miller on a one-year contract. The 25 year-old impressed coach Mark Robinson whilst accompanying them on their pre-season tours to South Africa and Dubai.
Warwickshire have numerous injury concerns ahead of the new season, most notably that effecting number two spinner Paul Best, who will be sidelined for around three months with a stress reaction in his back. The Bears’ other spin option Chris Metters is likely to miss all of the 2013 season following shoulder surgery. Other injured players include Freddie Coleman (broken finger), Sam Hain (shoulder) and Ateeq Javid (hamstring).
Yorkshire CCC have signed a three-year sponsorship deal with local cheesemaker Wensleydale. The firm’s logo will be displayed on the sides and back of players’ shirts.
© Cricket World 2013