As the County Championship enters its business end, there is still much to be settled in a thrilling run-in that will include the return of several England stars to their counties.
Nottinghamshire vs. Yorkshire
Yorkshire can wrap up the title with victory over Notts, but the hosts will retain some hope of toppling the White Rose from the summit.
As first meets second, Yorkshire will once again be able to call on key batsmen Joe Root and Gary Ballance, who have missed the greater part of the season through being away on international duty. Tim Bresnan will also feature.
Notts, meanwhile, can look forward to the return of Alex Hales and Harry Gurney, both of whom featured in the successful T20 against India.
In a sense, both sides will be sporting quite a different team to the ones who have brought them to this point. It will certainly be interesting to see if either side’s England heroes prove the difference.
Middlesex vs. Durham
On a high after reaching the final of the Royal London One-Day Cup, Durham need Ben Stokes to reproduce his semi-final form that saw him hit an impressive century. Both sides have little to play for after a mediocre season all-round.
Sam Robson is set to experience a welcome return to Lord’s after a difficult debut summer with England, and a good knock could go a long way to reminding the ECB’s selectors of his credentials.
Warwickshire vs. Northamptonshire
The One-Day Cup’s other finalists Warwickshire slipped out of contention for the title late on, but can still grab second place with a late push.
Northants, on the other hand, will take to the field for the first time since their relegation straight back to Division Two was confirmed with a draw against Somerset.
Jonathan Trott striding into excellent form in the second half of the season has provided a pleasant sight at Edgbaston. The Birmingham outfit are bolstered by the availability of Ian Bell and Chris Woakes.
At Wantage Road, there have been comparably few pleasant sights for the visitors, who at their current rate are on course to set a record for the lowest points total ever in Division One.
Sussex vs. Lancashire
Lancashire have had a season to forget, and are still fighting off demotion. Glen Chapple’s side may regret their push for the Natwest T20 Blast, which perhaps took their eye off the ball somewhat.
Together with the disappointment of losing out in that competition to the Birmingham Bears, the Red Rose have won just 3 of 14 games this season. Sussex, though, have put in a far more praiseworthy effort.
Essex vs. Kent
Essex will be without England captain Alastair Cook for their run-in, after England refused to release him for domestic duty. Cook is the only England player to be left in such a position, but the Chelmsford side can at least count on Ravi Bopara, who has had an excellent season for his county.
Kent, can select James Tredwell, though they have in fact being playing well even in his absence.
Glamorgan vs. Derbyshire
Glamorgan will no doubt be looking forward to the end of a miserable season, though they can still climb out of eighth-place. Derbyshire have enjoyed a marked improvement since their early season struggles, but have relatively little riding on this fixture.
Gloucestershire vs. Leicestershire
Yet to reach 100 points, Leicestershire will inevitably take home the wooden spoon this year. Despite the focus on England cricket returning to Bristol after four years, Gloucestershire have had their own season to focus on, though the Leicestershire game will now be a battle between two lowly sides.
Worcestershire vs. Surrey
After being top for so long, Worcestershire can take a giant step towards promotion with victory, and that looks all the more likely with the return of Moeen Ali.
As for Surrey, Kevin Pietersen will play no further part in Surrey’s season, having been left out of their squad for their final two games, in order for youngsters Aneesh Kapil and Arun Harinath to be given playing time.
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