Table-leading Lancashire come to Bristol in excellent Championship form having won four of their seven Division Two matches, opening up a 31 point lead over second placed Surrey.
They have only lost one Championship match this season, but this was to their west country hosts for this match. This makes the prospect for this encounter enticing, for the Red Rose county will be out to show their followers that this was a blip for which they will exact early revenge this week.
Lancashire’s confidence in gaining victory in Bristol is understandable but they will be playing a side who have had a better start to the season than many predicted. Gloucestershire have won two Championship matches this season and had the better of the two they have drawn. In addition, their Championship season has been boosted by a much better T20 record than in recent seasons, winning three of their four matches in the South Group.
In their last Championship game at Derby Gloucestershire came close to beating Derbyshire in a rain-ruined game. The home side were set 302 to win in the fourth innings after a series of declarations and held on for a draw, the visitors failing to take the last two Derbyshire wickets.
Lancashire’s last match too was spoilt by rain. What could have been a fascinating, high-scoring contest against second-placed Surrey at the Kia Oval ended in a frustrating draw with over a thousand runs scored for the loss of just ten wickets.
In this Ashes summer Australian cricketers are never far from the limelight and two international Aussie stars are likely to play a significant part in this game.
For Gloucestershire Michael Klinger has returned for his third season and made an immediate impact. Three days after arriving in the UK he hit a swashbuckling T20 century against Essex followed by 93 at Derby last week in the Championship game. He will not captain the side in red-ball cricket on his return (the job staying with Geraint Jones) but he skippers the one-day side. The Nevil Road club were keen to see Klinger return not just for his batting prowess but for the positive influence his presence has on his younger colleagues.
Lancashire will include Tasmanian all-rounder James Faulkner for his second Championship game for the county. Faulkner takes over the overseas slot vacated by fellow Aussie Peter Siddle who is in the West Indies with the Test side. Faulkner, fresh from IPL duty with Rajasthan Royals, hit a century at the Kia Oval last week on his Lancashire Championship debut. What was remarkable about this century was that it was Faulkner’s maiden first-class century, coming 21 months after his Test debut, also at the Kia Oval, against England. Faulkner is keen not to be typecast as a white-ball specialist and sees experience of county cricket as a valuable part of his development.
Lancashire coach Ashley Giles has added 21-year-old right-arm fast medium bowler Gavin Griffiths to the team which drew at the Kia Oval last week. Griffiths, an England Under 19 international, has yet to make his first-class debut.
Gloucestershire have not yet named their team but it is unlikely to differ from the side which featured at Derby with Benny Howell continuing to be preferred to Kiwi all-rounder Kieran Noema-Barnett.
Geraint Jones (c), Chris Dent, Will Tavare, Michael Klinger, Gareth Roderick (W), Hamish Marshall, Benny Howell, Jack Taylor, David Payne, Liam Norwell, Craig Miles
Steven Croft (c), Paul Horton, Karl Brown, Alviro Petersen, Ashwell Prince, James Faulkner, Alex Davies (W), Jordan Clark, Tom Bailey, Simon Kerrigan, Kyle Jarvis, Gavin Griffiths
Weather and conditions
The weather forecast for Bristol for the duration of the match is settled. It will be dry with sunny intervals albeit with temperatures slightly below average for early June.
Date: 7-10th June 2015.
Ground: The County Ground, Nevil Road, Bristol.
Umpires: Peter Hartley and Ben Debenham
Odds (SkyBet): Gloucestershire 11/8, Lancashire 8/15