The penultimate round of the LV= County Championship will get underway tomorrow, with everything still to play for. Warwickshire could wrap up the title over the next four days if results in their match and elsewhere go their way, while the battle for promotion is hotting up in Division Two, with the three teams battling for the second promotion place separated by just six points. Full previews and team news for each fixture are below.
Middlesex v Lancashire at Lord’s
The home side are safe from relegation following their win over Worcestershire and cannot win the title either so have rested a couple of players for the match against relegation-threatened Lancashire, who are just a point off the bottom of the table. Tim Murtagh is rested ahead of his exertions in the World Twenty20 for Ireland, while John Simpson replaces Adam Rossington behind the stumps. Ollie Rayner returns to the 13-man squad after recovering from a broken finger. Lancashire desperately need a win and there is still no place for Stephen Moore in their squad.
Surrey v Nottinghamshire at The Oval
Each side really needs to win – Nottinghamshire must do so to keep their slim title hopes alive, while Surrey are one of three teams who are in the relegation battle. The hosts continue to be boosted by the presence of Kevin Pietersen and have included Tim Linley, Chris Jordan and Gary Wilson in a 14-strong squad. The visitors look likely to be without Michael Lumb who is expecting the birth of his first child and would only be available for the first two days of the match in any event due to England World T20 commitments. Neil Edwards will replace him at the top of the order, while Alex Hales, who will also have to leave after two days, could be replaced by any of Paul Franks, Steven Mullaney or Andy Carter, with off-spinning all-rounder Sam Wood expected to start due to the nature of the pitch.
Sussex v Somerset at Hove
Sussex sit second in Division One and have chosen to leave out their England all-rounder Luke Wright rather than have him available for just two days for what is a must win match. Matt Prior is, however, included as he continues to be overlooked by England for one-day cricket. Lewis Hatchett, Kirk Wernars and Ben Brown complete the 13-man squad. Somerset’s team news is one of replacement players and injuries as ever in 2012, with Jos Buttler leaving after two days, meaning that Steve Snell will play the final two days of the match, and Abdur Rehman jetting in from Sharjah overnight tonight to replace George Dockrell, who has to link up with Ireland after the first two days. Nick Compton is also still unavailable due to a back injury.
Worcestershire v Warwickshire at New Road
Worcestershire’s situation is far simpler. They have to win and must do so without Gareth Andrew, who has a calf injury. They have added Nick Harrison, Aneesh Kapil and Brett D’Oliveira to the side that lost to Middlesex last week. A win for Warwickshire would, in all likelihood, see them crowned county champions with a match still to play, but they will be without England all-rounder Chris Woakes. They do, however, hope to have Jeetan Patel available for some of the match as he returns from India tonight after playing in the second Test in Bangalore. Tom Milnes and Recordo Gordon are included in a 13-man squad.
Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire at Bristol
The home side are currently last in Division Two but do welcome back Ed Cowan for their final home game of the season. Alex Gidman also after missing the defeat to Yorkshire, while 17 year-old Cameron Herring is included in the 13-man squad. Northamptonshire are in mid-table and have little to gain from the match. Alex Wakely is ruled out with a finger injury and will be replaced by Kyle Coetzer at number four, while David Willey and Luke Evans return to the fold.
Hampshire v Essex at Southampton
The home side have slipped to fourth in the table and have to win to keep their promotion hopes alive. They are without Danny Briggs, who is away with England, and have drafted in David Griffiths as his replacement. Neil McKenzie is also unavailable after returning to South Africa. Essex are out of contention for promotion and are without strike-bowler David Masters, who has a side muscle injury. Tymal Mills and Reece Topley are battling to take his place in the final eleven.
Kent v Derbyshire at Canterbury
Geraint Jones will become only the tenth player in Kent’s history to play in 100 consecutive Championship matches when he walks out for Kent in a game they cannot afford to lose tomorrow. They face top of the table Derbyshire; for whom a win would secure promotion. They will be captained by Wayne Madsen and have included Mark Turner, Peter Burgoyne and Alex Hughes in their 13-man squad.
Yorkshire v Glamorgan at Headingley
The home side have named the same 12 players that triumphed last week in Scarborough for their final home game of the season. A win would see them go a long way to securing Division One status in 2013. Glamorgan are one of the second division’s stragglers and have made three changes to their squad. Marcus North will return to Australia ahead of their domestic season, while the departing James Harris and the evergreen Robert Croft have been omitted. David Lloyd and Andrew Salter – who is set to sign a full-time professional contract with the club for 2013 – are in line for Championship debuts, with John Glover and Mike Reed also among the 13 names competing for a starting berth.
Weather Forecast: The weather should at least hold fair for much of the four days, with tomorrow expected to be mostly dry, albeit cloudy and cooler than today. Temperatures will peak at between 19 and 22 degrees Celsius with the best of the sunshine further north.
© Cricket World 2012
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