LVCC PREVIEW: Ian Bell to skipper the Birmingham Bears

The first round of the LV= County Championship provided plenty of entertainment in spite of the customary damp early Spring weather. Round two begins tomorrow, with champions Durham beginning their title defence by travelling to injury-hit Northamptonshire, and Yorkshire set to begin their title tilt with a trip to 2013 strugglers Somerset.

CRICKET-ENG-AUS-ASHES

by Daniel Grummitt

Middlesex v Nottinghamshire at Lord’s

Middlesex had a torrid time last time out against Sussex and have responded by axing Neil Dexter from their 13-man squad after he made scores of six and five at Hove. He will probably be replaced in the eleven by returning all-rounder Gareth Berg, whose inclusion could pave the way for a recall for England Lions spinner Ollie Rayner, possibly at the expense of Toby Roland-Jones. Joe Denly and Adam Rossington will fight it out for the final batting spot.

Middlesex squad: Chris Rogers (captain), Sam Robson, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan, Adam Rossington, John Simpson (wicket-keeper), Gareth Berg, Ollie Rayner, James Harris, Tim Murtagh, Steven Finn, Joe Denly, Toby Roland-Jones.

The visitors are boosted by the availability of internationals Peter Siddle and James Taylor as they look to build on their narrow win over Lancashire. Australian Siddle is now in possession of the necessary paperwork and looks set to replace one of Jake Ball, Andy Carter or Luke Fletcher. Taylor, meanwhile, has recovered from a side strain and has replaced Alex Hales in the squad. Andre Adams and Ajmal Shahzad are still not match fit.

Nottinghamshire squad: Steven Mullaney, Phil Jaques, Michael Lumb, James Taylor, Samit Patel, Riki Wessels, Chris Read (captain, wicket-keeper), Peter Siddle, Luke Fletcher, Andy Carter, Harry Gurney, Jake Ball.

ball-on-ownNorthamptonshire v Durham at Wantage Road

Newly-promoted Northamptonshire’s pre-season has been a tale of injuries. Limited-overs captain Alex Wakely is set to miss the majority of the season, while key all-rounder David Willey (back), Ben Duckett (knee), Rob Keogh and James Kettleborough (both broken finger) are also ruled out. Allied to that is the failure by them to secure an overseas signing, with deals with Jackson Bird and Rory Kleinveldt both falling through due to injury concerns.

Northamptonshire squad: Stephen Peters (captain), Kyle Coetzer, David Sales, Rob Newton, Matthew Spriegel, Steven Crook, Andrew Hall, David Murphy (wicket-keeper), James Middlebrook, Maurice Chambers, Mohammad Azharullah, Olly Stone.

Durham also have a couple of injuries to key players, with all-rounder Ben Stokes (wrist) and Mark Wood (side strain) missing out. However, they would have been boosted by a century from skipper Paul Collingwood last week against Durham MCCU which went someway towards scotching talk that he may quit playing before the end of the season. Their biggest selection decision will be to decide between playing Gareth Breese to bolster the spin attack or Gordon Muchall to strengthen the batting.

Durham squad: Mark Stoneman, Keaton Jennings, Scott Borthwick, Michael Richardson, Phil Mustard (wicket-keeper), Paul Collingwood (captain), Gordon Muchall, Usman Arshad, Jamie Harrison, Graham Onions. Chris Rushworth, Paul Coughlin, Gareth Breese.

1042214-1738974Somerset v Yorkshire at Taunton

Somerset will be without former Yorkshire fast-bowler Steve Kirby as they entertain the Tykes at Taunton as he undergoes an ankle operation. They do, however, have overseas player Alviro Petersen available after he missed the match against Leeds/Bradford MCCU last week. Petersen is likely to replace Johann Myburgh from that eleven, while Peter Trego is back and set to take the place of Lewis Gregory. George Dockrell could also play to provide a spin option.

Somerset squad: Marcus Trescothick (captain), Alviro Petersen, Nick Compton, James Hildreth, (vice-captain), Craig Kieswetter (wicket-keeper), Chris Jones, Peter Trego, Craig Meschede, Alfonso Thomas, George Dockrell, Jamie Overton, Craig Overton, Lewis Gregory, Johann Myburgh.

Yorkshire are without England wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow after the 24 year-old broke a finger during a friendly against Northamptonshire, meaning that Andrew Hodd will don the gloves. Moin Ashraf is the man most likely to miss out from the 12-man squad named.

Yorkshire squad: Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Kane Williamson, Andrew Gale (captain), Gary Ballance, Adil Rashid, Andrew Hodd (wicket-keeper), Liam Plunkett, Ryan Sidebottom, Steve Patterson, Jack Brooks, Moin Ashraf.

Warwickshire v Sussex at Edgbaston

The Bears will be led by England batsman Ian Bell as club captain Jim Troughton continues his recovery from a back injury. Also set to play is Jonathan Trott after he began his comeback against Oxford MCCU last week, while Chris Woakes and Jeetan Patel are set to start after missing that fixture. Richard Jones and Oliver Hannon-Dalby are set to contest the final pace-bowling spot unless both miss out and Ateeq Javid plays to strengthen the batting.

Warwickshire squad: Varun Chopra, Laurie Evans, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell (captain), Tim Ambrose (wicket-keeper), Chris Woakes, Rikki Clarke, Keith Barker, Jeetan Patel, Richard Jones, Chris Wright, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Ateeq Javid.

Sussex have yet to name their squad, but will welcome back Chris Jordan, probably at the expense of Steffan Piolet. Chris Nash and Luke Wright are both still unavailable due to injury, while doubt still surrounds Matt Prior’s fitness, with Rory Hamilton-Brown set to benefit is he is ruled out.

testerEssex v Derbyshire at Chelmsford

Essex have England players Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara available for their first match in the 2014 LV= County Championship’s second division. However, Reece Topley is ruled out with a back problem, while Ryan ten Doeschate is about to begin his stint in the IPL. Sajid Mahmood has been added to the eleven that beat Cambridge MCCU last week.

Essex squad: Alastair Cook, Jaik Mickleburgh, Tom Westley, Ravi Bopara, Greg Smith, Ben Foakes, James Foster (captain, wicket-keeper), Graham Napier, David Masters, Monty Panesar, Tymal Mills, Sajid Mahmood.

Derbyshire were due to begin their campaign against Leicestershire last week, but that match was postponed owing to the tragic accident involving wicket-keeper Tom Poynton, which claimed the life of his father Keith. They have named the same 13 that were on duty against Durham MCCU at the beginning of the month, with David Wainwright and Mark Turner added to that eleven.

Derbyshire squad: Stephen Moore, Billy Godleman, Wayne Madsen (captain), Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chesney Hughes, Wes Durston, Richard Johnson (wicket-keeper), Jonathan Clare, Tony Palladino, Tim Groenewald, Mark Footitt, Mark Turner, David Wainwright.

Gloucestershire v Hampshire at Bristol

The hosts have already announced their eleven, with Matt Taylor named as 12th man. Ian Saxelby is back from a quad muscle injury and replaces Jack Taylor from the side that drew with Cardiff MCCU last week. Cameron Herring keeps the gloves owing to Gareth Roderick’s injury.

Gloucestershire squad: Michael Klinger (captain), Chris Dent, Will Tavare, Alex Gidman, Hamish Marshall, Will Gidman, Cameron Herring (wicket-keeper), James Fuller, Tom Smith, Ian Saxelby, David Payne, Matt Taylor.

Hampshire have overseas player Kyle Abbott available to play after their disappointing opening round performance against Worcestershire. Also included after missing out then is left-arm spinner Danny Briggs, with Ruel Brathwaite axed from the 12-man squad.

Hampshire squad: Michael Carberry, Jimmy Adams (captain), Liam Dawson, James Vince, Will Smith, Joe Gatting, Sean Ervine, Adam Wheater (wicket-keeper), Matt Coles, Kyle Abbott, James Tomlinson, David Balcombe, Danny Briggs.

Domestic FixturesWorcestershire v Kent at New Road

Worcestershire are still without overseas pro Saeed Ajmal as the Pakistan Cricket Board continues to drag its heels over issuing the required No-Objection Certificate (NOC). Shaaiq Choudhry is therefore again named in the squad and could replace Charlie Morris if conditions demand it.

Worcestershire squad: Daryl Mitchell (captain), Matthew Pardoe, Moeen Ali, Alexei Kervezee, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Ross Whiteley, Ben Cox (wicket-keeper), Gareth Andrew, Jack Shantry, Charlie Morris, Chris Russell, Shaaiq Choudhry.

Kent have overseas player Doug Bollinger to lead their attack, with Rob Key again skippering the side and James Tredwell back in the ranks. They have three injury problems, with Mark Davies (torn bicep), Alex Blake (shoulder) and Calum Haggett (side strain) all out, meaning that Robbie Joseph should get a game on his return to the county. Charlie Hartley is expected to be 12th man.

Kent squad: Rob Key (captain), Sam Northeast, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Brendan Nash, Ben Harmison, Darren Stevens, Sam Billings (wicket-keeper), James Tredwell, Mitchell Claydon, Doug Bollinger, Robbie Joseph, Charlie Hartley.

Weather Forecast

The weather is set fair for day one, with sunny spells and highs of between 11 and 17 degrees Celsius. The following three days should also be mostly dry, albeit more overcast, with temperatures again peaking at around the 17 degrees Celsius mark at Lord’s. Wednesday could be slightly milder.

Daniel Grummitt

Cricket Writer at World Cricket Badger
Daniel first began writing about cricket in 2011, having been a fan of the game ever since his Grandad introduced him to it at the age of 10.

He worked for CricketWorld.com for almost three years, leading their county and domestic cricket coverage and contributing to a book about the 2012 ICC World Twenty20, before joining the hugely ambitious World Cricket Badger early in 2014.

The first Test that he remembers watching was on Channel 4 - back before the ECB marginalised potential future fans by selling the TV rights to Sky Sports - when England beat Pakistan by an innings and nine runs at Lord’s.

Besides a passion for domestic cricket, he also has an unexplainable interest in all things Zimbabwe cricket!

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