The LV=County Championship game between Warwickshire and Somerset may seem, on the face of it, to be a mid-table clash with little except pride at stake. The home side sit in fourth place in the table with Somerset one place behind. The reality, however, is that both sides have objectives for the rest of the season.
The Bears have only a remote chance of catching leaders Yorkshire, who are 32 points ahead of them with a game in hand. Repeating last year’s second place is more achievable, especially after that last-gasp win over Durham in midweek.
Somerset, as befits the middle team of nine, are looking both up and down. They are only 14 points ahead of relegation places, but a win here would most likely move them further away from that last-but-one spot; and it would also enable them to leapfrog the Bears (not something to try at home) and maybe aim for a top three finish.
For Warwickshire, Chris Woakes is now fit again and raring to go. He may have left it late to bid for an Ashes place but he will be doing everything to force his way back into contention. A good bowling performance combined with some middle order runs would be a boost both for him and for the Bears who have missed his all-round skills.
Somerset will hope that Tim Groenewald will have a happy return to Edgbaston where he was a player until 2008. Many Somerset fans were sceptical about his move from Derbyshire last year, but he has taken 27 first-class wickets at a cost of 26.37 and established himself as a key member of the Championship side.
Both teams have NatWest T20 Blast games on Friday evening so any team news can only be provisional and subject to players surviving the hectic demands of T20 unscathed. In Somerset’s case, they have to travel up from the Oval.
Warwickshire, as well as welcoming Chris Woakes back, have Keith Barker available after injury and Jonathan Trott returns from paternity leave. Chris Wright and Boyd Rankin are absent.
Warwickshire squad: Varun Chopra (c), Tim Ambrose (wk), Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Laurie Evans, Sam Hain, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Ateeq Javid, Tom Milnes, Jeetan Patel, Jonathan Trott, Ian Westwood, Chris Woakes
Somerset have Craig Overton fit again after suffering mild concussion. They have recalled batsman Tom Cooper and are resting Lewis Gregory. Abdur Rehmann is in the squad but Somerset will be concerned that his ten wickets so far have come at a cost of 66 runs apiece.
Somerset squad: Marcus Trescothick (c), Tom Abell, Jim Allenby, Michael Bates, Tom Cooper, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Johann Myburgh, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Abdur Rehman, Alfonso Thomas, Peter Trego
Weather and Conditions
The forecast is for four mainly dry days with the temperature around 20 degrees.
As for the pitch, the last two Championship games at Edgbaston have produced Warwickshire first innings scores of 612-6 (against Sussex) and 69 all out (against Yorkshire). Maybe this time we will get a happy medium.
Date: 18-21 July
Ground: Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham
Time: 12.00 start on day one because of the T20 games the night before. 11.00 starts on days two to four.
Umpires: Paul Baldwin and Mark Benson
Odds (Skybet): Warwickshire 8/13; Somerset 6/5