The County Championship title may have been decided but there is still much to play for when fourth placed Warwickshire take on Nottinghamshire, one place above them, at Edgbaston this week.
Both teams retain hopes of overtaking Middlesex and claiming second place. And whereas Notts will be looking to extend a stunning run of five wins in their last six games, Warwickshire will want to halt a late season slump that has seen them fail to win a Championship game since mid-July. This poor sequence includes a humiliating defeat to Notts at Trent Bridge when the Bears, forced to follow on, lost by an innings and 123 runs.
Despite this disparity in recent form, Notts Director of Cricket Mick Newell is aware that his team will need to be at their best. “Warwickshire will be gunning for us as they came here and were turned over and will be hurting from that.”
For Warwickshire, Jeetan Patel is just two short of once again reaching 50 first class wickets. As recently reported, he has a simple recipe for success. “I don’t think spinners do enough in the UK,” he says. “They need to practise a lot more. The reality is the more you do the better you get.” Maybe Notts’ spinning Patel, Samit, will take note.
Key man for Notts is surely their skipper Chris Read. He tops their Championship batting averages, having scored three centuries and five fifties in 18 innings. As a wicket-keeper, he has just reached the massive milestone of 1,000 first class victims, the first to do so this century. He is undoubtedly, at county level, the outstanding wicket-keeper batsman of his generation.
Warwickshire will choose from the eleven that drew with Middlesex plus Laurie Evans and Oliver Hannon-Dalby. Ian Bell will not be available until next week’s final fixture and Chris Woakes is still injured. The Bears bat deep but have too many top order batsmen out of form. Varun Chopra, Jonathan Trott and William Porterfield are all in alarming form slumps. The Bears’ middle and lower order batsmen must surely qualify for a commission in the Canadian Mounties, so often have they been required to ride to the rescue.
Warwickshire squad: Varun Chopra (captain), Tim Ambrose (wicketkeeper), Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Laurie Evans, Sam Hain, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Jeetan Patel, William Porterfield , Boyd Rankin, Jonathan Trott, Ian Westwood, Chris Wright
Notts will be delighted to welcome back Alex Hales and James Taylor from England duty. Matt Carter and Luke Fletcher also come into the squad. Missing from those who played in the win over Durham are Jake Libby and Michael Lumb.
Notts squad: Chris Read (captain, wicketkeeper), Jake Ball, Matt Carter, Luke Fletcher, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Brett Hutton, Steven Mullaney, Samit Patel, Brendan Taylor, James Taylor, Riki Wessels, Luke Wood
Weather and Conditions
The forecast is for occasional heavy rain showers over the course of the four days with temperatures in the mid-teens. As for the pitch, groundsman Gary Barwell has at least had a recent run of largely dry weather to prepare a decent strip.
Date: 14 – 17 September 2015
Ground: Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham
Odds (via Skybet): Warwickshire 5/6, Notts 5/6