Three games in and Lancashire sit right at the top of the Division Two tree– which will have come as a surprise to absolutely nobody. The Red Rose are the biggest fish in the County Championship’s smallest pond and will be expected to continue their march back to Division One with a win at home to Gloucestershire.
Captain Geraint Jones and company can take encouragement, however, from the way that Northamptonshire battled to a draw against Lancashire last week and come into the game off the back of their first win of the season – a
resounding nine-wicket victory against Essex. A half-century in both
innings from opener Chris Dent gave them a solid platform which was built
upon by Liam Norwell, who took ten wickets in the match, and
Gloucestershire will be hoping for something similar at Old Trafford.
Lancashire have their own in-form bowler in the form of Kyle Jarvis. The
seamer is Division Two’s leading wicket taker having racked up 18 wickets
in the opening three matches at an average of 18.22. Veteran South African
batsman Ashwell Prince notched his second century of the season against
Northants and is the leading runs scorer in Division Two. He boasts a
season average of 94.25, providing crucial middle order runs under pressure
for Ashley Giles’ side.
Gloucestershire lost their top run scorer from last season, Alex Gidman,
to Worcestershire and his brother Will to Nottinghamshire over the summer
which has put strain on their current crop to deliver the runs. Dent is the
only man to hit a century for them so far. For Lancashire, eyes are on
their big summer arrival Alviro Petersen who, having hit a century in his
first innings of the season, has hit three single-figure scores in his last
The last two meetings between the two sides, in 2013, ended in draws.
Weather and conditions
The weather forecast indicates that the majority of this game could be
played in overcast, cloudy conditions though the match shouldn’t be
hampered too much by rain. The pitch at Old Trafford generally favours the
batsmen though the hard, fast nature of the surface offers encouragement to
the quicker bowlers.
Date: 10-13th May 2015
Ground: Emirates Old Trafford
Umpires: Michael Gough & Graham Lloyd
Odds: (Betfair): Lancashire 11/10, Draw 27/50, Gloucestershire 43/20
Lancashire’s Peter Siddle will pull on the Red Rose shirt for the last
time before joining up with the Australian squad. While Jarvis has been the
headline-grabber this season, Siddle has acted as the leader of the attack,
proving as potent as he has been economical. The Test star has taken 11
wickets with an impressive economy rate of 2.93. Steven Croft will throw
Siddle the new ball with the expectation of an early breakthrough.
As captain, wicket-keeper and crucial batsman, Gloucestershire are relying
heavily on new man Geraint Jones to make an impact. His form with the bat since making the move from Kent has been solid, if unspectacular, with a
high score of 80 and an average of 31. The 2005 Ashes-winning keeper needs to use his experience and know-how to guide this Gloucestershire side and come up with the goods as captain and with bat and gloves to inspire them to victories.
Both sides are expected to remain unchanged from their last County
Championship matches. That will mean a second Old Trafford outing for
Alviro Petersen as he bids to recapture some form while Simon Kerrigan will
again provide the spin option for skipper Steven Croft. Alex Davies has
been in impressive form with bat and gloves, leading Giles to predict he
could soon be challenging club colleague Jos Buttler for international
Gloucestershire will again look to Dent and Will Tavare to provide the top
order runs while pressure will again be on fast bowler Norwell to offer the
wicket-taking threat against Lancashire’s batting ranks. Experienced
middle-order batsman Hamish Marshall will have to build on his average of
32.75 if Gloucestershire are to put enough runs on the board to contend for
a result here.