LV= County Championship Division Two:
Essex v Gloucestershire at Chelmsford
The home side have named the same eleven that drew against Cambridge MCCU at the weekend. Last season, the same two sides met in their first fixture of the 2012 season, with Essex running out winners by an innings and 38 runs.
Essex XI: Tom Westley, Rob Quiney, Ben Foakes, Ravi Bopara, Mark Pettini, James Foster (captain, wicket-keeper), Greg Smith, Graham Napier, David Masters, Maurice Chambers, Tymal Mills.
Gloucestershire are boosted by the return of all-rounder Will Gidman from a thigh injury, while Cameron Herring has beaten off competition from Richard Coughtrie and Gareth Roderick to take his place behind the stumps. Jack Taylor is preferred to Ed Young as the sole spinner in the 12-man squad, although it is possible that the visitors may opt for an all seam attack. If they do, then it will be without Ian Saxelby and Paul Muchall, who are both ruled out through injury.
Gloucestershire squad: Michael Klinger (captain), Chris Dent, Benny Howell, Dan Housego, Alex Gidman, Hamish Marshall, Will Gidman, Cameron Herring, James Fuller, David Payen, Liam Norwell, Jack Taylor.
Glamorgan v Northamptonshire at Cardiff
Mark Wallace will play with the bruised thumb that he sustained during the match against Cardiff MCCU, while Ben Wright will open alongside Will Bragg to make room for Murray Goodwin in the batting line-up. The bowling attack sees Graham Wagg return, with Mike Reed, Dean Cosker and Huw Waters battling for two places.
Glamorgan squad: Mark Wallace (captain), Will Bragg, Ben Wright, Stewart Walters, Marcus North, Murray Goodwin, Jim Allenby, Graham Wagg, Dean Cosker, Michael Hogan, Mike Reed, Huw Waters.
Northants coach David Ripley admitted that he faced some difficult decisions when selecting the squad for their trip to Wales. “We have had some tough selections to make because the squad has been competitive throughout pre-season and it’s good that the players have had to fight hard for their places,” he said. One of those difficult decisions was to leave out promising teenage wicket-keeper Ben Duckett in favour of David Murphy.
Northamptonshire squad: Stephen Peters (captain), Kyle Coetzer, Alex Wakely, David Sales, Rob Newton, Andrew Hall, James Middlebrook, David Murphy, David Willey, Steven Crook, Trent Copeland, Lee Daggett.
Hampshire v Leicestershire at Southampton
Hampshire will be quietly pleased to have Leicestershire as their opening opponents, although coach Giles White stressed that they wouldn’t be taking them lightly after losing at Grace Road last year. As far as the team goes, Danny Briggs is likely to face the same problems as he did last season in the Championship and is odds-on to be the man to sit out from the 12 selected. As expected, Adam Wheater sees off the challenge from Michael Bates and will keep wicket.
Hampshire squad: Jimmy Adams (captain), Michael Carberry, George Bailey, James Vince, Sean Ervine, Liam Dawson, Adam Wheater, Chris Wood, James Tomlinson, David Balcombe, David Griffiths, Danny Briggs.
The Foxes welcome back their captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, who has missed all of their pre-season matches having only arrived from Guyana at the weekend. However, he was bullish about his side’s chances despite facing promotion hopefuls Hampshire in their first match.
He said, “I think we can compete in all forms of the game as we showed last year. The one thing we were lacking last year was consistency. If we can be consistent as a team, and be consistent as individual players, then it will really help. We don’t have the big-name players that other counties have but we have some very talented young players. Josh [Cobb] had a good season and will be striving for consistency, and Shiv [Thakor] is very talented and has a bright future. He takes his cricket very seriously.”
Besides the problem of facing a potent Hampshire side on their home turf, Sarwan will have to make do with a seam-attack that is depleted by injuries. Nathan Buck, Anthony Ireland and Robbie Williams are all out, with the former two likely to miss a good chunk of the start of the 2013 season. In their absence, Matthew Hoggard will lead a youthful attack which includes Ollie Freckingham and Alex Wyatt.
Leicestershire squad: Michael Thornely, Niall O’Brien, Greg Smith, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Josh Cobb, Matt Boyce, Ned Eckersley, Shiv Thakor, Rob Taylor, Jigar Naik, Matthew Hoggard, Alex Wyatt, Ollie Freckingham.
Lancashire v Worcestershire at Old Trafford
The 2011 champions host Worcestershire as they look to make their stay in Division Two a short one. New signings Wayne White and Simon Katich have been named in a 12-man squad. White is likely to compete with Luke Procter for the all-rounder’s berth.
Lancashire squad: Glen Chapple (captain), Paul Horton, Tom Smith, Karl Brown, Steven Croft, Simon Katich, Ashwell Prince, Gareth Cross, Wayne White, Kyle Hogg, Luke Procter, Simon Kerrigan.
The visitors have chosen former Western Australia gloveman Michael Johnson over Ben Cox behind the stumps. Elsewhere, Sri Lanka’s Thilan Samaraweera will make his county cricket debut, with Shaaiq Choudhry and Richard Jones likely to vie for the final starting place.
Worcestershire squad: Daryl Mitchell (captain), Matthew Pardoe, Moeen Ali, Thilan Samarweera, Alexei Kervezee, Neil Pinner, Michael Johnson, Gareth Andrew, Shaaiq Choudhry, Chris Russell, Richard Jones, Alan Richardson.
Kent v Cardiff MCCU at Canterbury
The hosts have named a 13-man squad for their maiden first-class outing of the new season. James Tredwell will skipper the side for the first time in his new capacity as club captain, while winter signing Calum Haggett makes the cut.
Kent squad: James Tredwell (captain), Rob Key, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sam Northeast, Mike Powell, Darren Stevens, Brendan Nash, Alex Blake, Geraint Jones, Matt Coles, Calum Haggett, Mark Davies, Charlie Shreck.
Weather Forecast: A band of rain will sweep in from the south-west during the course of the day, bringing with it an increasingly strong wind. It will reach the far south-west by lunchtime and as far as the west midlands and south-east during the evening. Temperatures will peak at between seven and 10 degrees Celsius.
County Cricket News In Brief:
Anguilla-born Derbyshire all-rounder Chesney Hughes has completed his qualification as an English-qualified cricketer. He joined the club in 2009 and has now completed the residency period.
Adil Rashid has apologised to Yorkshire and his captain Andrew Gale for comments that he made back in January that appeared to question his commitment to the club. The comments that he made in an interview to the The Independent have recently resurfaced much to Yorkshire’s displeasure. During the interview, he criticised Gale for showing little faith in his bowling, comparing him unfavourably to Michael Vaughan and said of his Yorkshire future: “I've been playing here seven years and I want to stay, but I have a career and I can't waste another year. If I don't feel as though I've been treated well, I'll go.”
© Cricket World 2013