In this post I look at the six county championship fixtures that will be starting tomorrow morning.
ESSEX V DERBYSHIRE
If this one has a definite the result the loser will be heavy favourite to finish bottom of the group – a win for Derbyshire would move them ahead of Essex with a game in hand on the latter, while a win for Essex would put them more than a maximum points victory ahead of Derbyshire meaning that the latter would stay last even if they won their game in hand. A draw would probably leave both teams looking at being in division three when the group stage ends. For Essex Dan Lawrence needs runs to keep himself in the England frame. For Derbyshire Matt Critchley will be looking to continue his excellent recent form with the bat – he is an outside prospect for England, who might bat him at number seven and hope that his part time leg spin will be good a few respectable overs at test level.
SUSSEX V KENT
Kent are in a dire need of a win, and Sussex are also having a less than stellar season, though a lot less bad than Kent. The big news is that Jofra Archer will be playing for Sussex. There is also a clash of (almost) homonymous players: Oliver Edward Robinson will share the new ball with Archer for Sussex, and keeping wicket and batting in the middle order for Kent will be Oliver Graham Robinson. Also look out for young off spinner Jack Carson, who has been a revelation so far this season.
GLAMORGAN V YORKSHIRE
Glamorgan have had one very impressive victory over Kent but otherwise things are not going too well for them. Yorkshire are duking it out with Lancashire for top spot in the group and with the red rose county not in action this round will want to take the opportunity to go clear at the top. Adam Lyth has been scoring a lot of runs for Yorkshire, although as so often the real trump card for the white rose is its bowling attack (see the 1900s side, the early to mid 1920s side, the 1930s side and the 1960s side, all legendary combinations, for examples of dominant Yorkshire bowling attacks).
MIDDLESEX V HAMPSHIRE
Middlesex have had one good result this season, the hammering they administered to London rivals Surrey, but have tended to pay a high price for having one bad session in a game. Hampshire won their first two matches of the season, but then Gloucestershire defied them to snatch a draw in game three, Surrey thrashed them out of sight in game four and Somerset gave them another hammering in game five. They will be hoping to cash in on Middlesex’s inconsistency to reignite their season – if they cannot do so a top two position in the group and with it progress to division one at the end of the group stage will be effectively gone.
DURHAM V WORCESTERSHIRE
Durham have been faring quite well this season, and a win here would put them well and truly in contention for a place in the top two in their group. Worcestershire are flattered by their current third place in the group – the extra points given for draws this season have helped them as they have drawn all five of their games to date, not looking terribly much like winning any of them. David Bedingham of Durham is in with an outside chance of reaching 1,000 first class runs for the season before the start of June. The strict feat of 1,000 first class runs in the month of May has been achieved three times, by WG Grace in 1895 (May 9th to May 30th), Walter Hammond in 1927 (May 7 to May 28, the final innings the of sequence 192 made out of 227 scored while he was at the crease, with five sixes and 27 fours) and Charles Hallows of Lancashire who got there by scoring 232 on the 30th and 31st of May (190* batting all through day one and the remaining 42 on the second morning). In addition to these Tom Hayward in 1900, Don Bradman in 1930 and 1938, Bill Edrich in 1938, Glenn Turner in 1973 and Graeme Hick in 1988 have all had 1,000 FC runs for the season before the start of June, but in each case with the assistance of runs in April, and it is this latter group that Bedingham is in the hunt to join.
SOMERSET V SURREY
This for me is the tie of the round. Both sides are in decent nick at the moment, and with Gloucestershire not in action this round Somerset will be especially determined to win and thus head the group. Tom Lammonby needs runs for Somerset, Tom Abell will be hoping to build on a strong start to the season, and Lewis Goldsworthy to continue the impressive start he has made to his first class career. Jack Leach, indisputably England’s first choice spinner at the moment, will be in action for Somerset as well, while Surrey will have Amar Virdi and possibly Dan Moriarty endeavouring to outdo the England incumbent. This match also features brother being pitted against brother: Craig Overton who has had a magnificent start to the season for Somerset, while Jamie Overton has been patchy thus far for Surrey. Also the Somerset keeper Steven Davies is a former Surrey player which lends things a little extra spice. Surrey have two England batters in their ranks, Rory Burns and Ollie Pope.
I am in the pleasant position of having more photographs than I can comfortably share in one post, so here is the first part of my latest collection: