It could be seen as harsh to call the opening game of the Championship season a possible “wooden spoon battle”, but the situation could be exactly that when Leicestershire welcome Glamorgan to Grace Road.
Leicestershire have been in a sorry state in the County Championship; without a win since 2012, it would be understandable for confidence to be low in the Midlands, with a number of first-team players, such as Josh Cobb and Shiv Thakor, moving on to pastures new.
The appointment of Mark Cosgrove, however, has led to optimism in the ranks, as emphasised by Angus Robson in the weeks leading up to the start of the season. Clint McKay’s presence seems to be an astute bit of business as the overseas name, although he won’t be available for this match, with his arrival set to be at the end of the month.
Glamorgan, meanwhile, have been hampered by the departure of stalwart Jim Allenby to Somerset, although they have seen Craig Meschede come in the other direction, whilst Colin Ingram has joined as a Kolpak signing to help boost the middle-order.
Interestingly, the Welsh club have maintained identical Championship records over the past three seasons, winning three and losing six games, and so may be targeting this game as a way to put points on the board early. Leicestershire are not to be underestimated though, as they racked up 500 in the subsequent fixture last April in a match that was ultimately drawn.
Despite a disappointing season for the Club, Angus Robson emerged as a bright spark for Leicestershire during the 2014 campaign. The 23-year-old made his first-class debut in 2013, but it was last year where he really developed for the Foxes, making over 1000 first-class runs in 2014, including a century against Champions Hampshire at Southampton.
Glamorgan will need Jacques Rudolph to lead from the front if 2015 is to be a successful season for them. The South African has replaced Mark Wallace as the captain of the side, and will need to use all his experience in guiding the Welsh county both on and off the park. Rudolph also enjoyed a profitable season against Leicestershire last term, with three scores of 50+ in three innings against the Foxes.
Leicestershire have named a 13-man squad for this game, with the XI that defeated Cambridge MCCU in the recent warm-up fixture joined by Matthew Boyce and Charlie Shreck. Mark Cosgrove is set to make his competitive debut at Grace Road against his former county.
Leicestershire squad: Mark Cosgrove (captain), Matthew Boyce, Ned Eckersley, Ollie Freckingham, Jigar Naik, Niall O’Brien (wicketkeeper), Neil Pinner, Ben Raine, Dan Redfern, Angus Robson, Atif Sheikh, Charlie Shreck, Tom Wells
Glamorgan could name as many as four debutants for this game, with Colin Ingram, James Kettleborough, Andy Carter and Craig Meschede all part of the 12-man squad. Despite no longer being captain, Mark Wallace is still integral to Glamorgan’s plans, and he could pass 10,000 first-class runs for the county in this game.
Glamorgan squad: Jacques Rudolph (captain), Will Bragg, Andy Carter, Chris Cooke, Dean Coskher, Colin Ingram, James Kettleborough, David Lloyd, Craig Meschede, Will Owen, Graham Wagg, Mark Wallace (wicketkeeper)
Weather and Conditions
A mixture of sunshine and cloud greets Grace Road for much of the four days, and although a little bit of rain is forecast for the end of Day Two, little if any play should be lost in this one.
Date: 12th – 15th April 2015
Ground: Grace Road, Leicester
Umpires: Steve Garratt & Mark Saggers
Odds (via SkyBet): Leicestershire 29/20, Glamorgan 4/7
LV County Championship Match Stats (in association with Opta)
- – Glamorgan have beaten Leicestershire at Grace Road just once in 29 years.
- – Charlie Shreck bowled the most balls in the 2014 Championship with 3360.
- – Michael Hogan has taken the most Division Two wickets in the last two seasons with 130.