Northamptonshire and Essex meet at Wantage Road on Sunday both looking to bounce back from damaging defeats in the last round of Division Two matches.
Northants had been unbeaten in their opening five games, but were hammered by 10 wickets by Glamorgan in Cardiff, only narrowly avoiding an innings defeat having had to follow-on.
Essex meanwhile became the first side to lose a Championship game to Leicestershire in over two years as the Foxes ended their 38 game drought last week. James Fosters men have now lost their last three games since beating Kent and sit bottom of the table.
Essex’s injury crisis appears to be easing but both sides will have to manage their squads as they embark on a run of seven days cricket in eight, with both facing t20 games on both Thursday and Friday following the four days at Northampton.
The host’s small squad is starting to show signs of creaking, with a couple of injuries starting to hit, while they are also without star man David Willey as he joins up with the England squad.
Stephen Peters made only five runs in two innings at Cardiff last week but the Northants opener has been in flowing form so far this season, showing his worth after the club tried to move him on last winter. Will have been disappointed not to convert one of four half centuries into a hundred, but a big one is surely just round the corner.
Tom Westley missed the start of the season through injury, making his first Championship appearance of the campaign against Leicestershire last week, scoring a second innings 97. He’s also hit 68 and 55 in two t20 games so far so the late start to the year doesn’t appear to have halted his thirst for runs.
Northamptonshire will be without wicket keeper Adam Rossington after he suffered a knee injury in the game at Glamorgan, while David Willey will join up with the England squad. Ben Duckett, who made his first appearance of the season alongside Rossington in Cardiff will take over behind the stumps while Steven Crook will replace Willey.
Northants squad: TBA
Reece Topley could appear in his first LVCC match this season, having been down with a back injury for several months. Aron Nijjar misses out this week because of his exams while David Masters returns from injury and is named in the 13 man squad.
Essex squad: James Foster (c/wk) Nick Browne, Jaik Mickleburgh, Tom Westley, Ravi Bopara, Jesse Ryder, Dan Lawrence, Ryan Ten Doeschate, Graham Napier, Adeel Malik, Reece Topley, David Masters, Jamie Porter
Weather and conditions
The weather is set fair for Northampton this week with a mixture of sunshine and cloud throughout the four days and very little threat of rain. All three Wantage Road Championship games this year have seen fairly flat pitches, with all three finishing as draws.
Date: Sunday June 7 – Wednesday June 10
Ground: Wantage Road, Northampton.
Umpires: Rob Bailey, Mark Benson.
Odds (via SkyBet): Northants: 4/5, Essex 10/11