Worcestershire are the second visitors to the Brightside Ground, Bristol in successive weeks. They will be hoping finally to get their season off to a start after their first scheduled match at New Road was abandoned without a ball bowled in the first week of the season due to continuous rain and a wet outfield.
For Gloucestershire it will be their third Championship game. They lost to Essex by ten wickets at Chelmsford in their first fixture and then drew with Derbyshire at Nevil Road in a dull game where nearly thirteen hundred runs were scored for the cost of only 22 wickets over the four days.
There will be interested scrutiny of the pitch in the early part of the game to see if it behaves in the same docile way that it did for the Derbyshire match when hardly a ball misbehaved in the four days.
If it does it will benefit neither side, both of whom want to get into winning ways. For Worcestershire, tipped to many to be contenders for the single promotion place this season, a draw on a pitch not likely to generate a positive result will be particularly unwelcome after their barren first attempt.
One of the bright points for Gloucestershire last week was the innings of left handed opener Chris Dent. For the second successive match at Bristol he scored heavily, hitting 180 from the Derbyshire attack to follow his 268 in the final match at Bristol in 2015.
Dent made his First Class debut for Gloucestershire in 2010 and since then has made nearly 5000 First Class runs at an average of 35, reaching the one thousand mark in two summers, including 2015.
Not only is he a mainstay of the red ball batting but also a valuable contributor to the limited over formats so hopes are high that the best years for this 25 year old local boy are still ahead of him.
Moeen Ali will appear for Worcestershire on Sunday a little matter of three weeks since playing in front of 66,000 people in the dramatic ICC World T20 final at Eden Gardens, Kolkata against the West Indies.
Moeen told the Worcestershire website that he still gets a big buzz from playing for the county and assures the county’s fans that it’s not difficult to switch back from international to domestic cricket.
‘When I played for England, I said I wasn’t going to be someone who came back and was going to moan about county cricket or anything like that. I think it is amazing and it is actually sometimes a little bit harder to come and play in county cricket in the conditions and with not many people watching and stuff. I can’t wait to get playing.’
Moeen is available for the next three Championship matches and is certain to bat higher in the order than his established England spot at eight.
Gloucestershire include former Millfield School pupil George Hankins in the squad as a replacement for Benny Howell who has a back problem which was aggravated in the Derbyshire match. Right handed bat Hankins (19), in his first season at Nevil Road made a century in the second XI last week. ‘George has carried on where he left off at the Darren Lehman Academy during the winter’ said head coach Richard Dawson. ‘He scored big runs there, and we asked him to repeat that in the second team and he’s done it.’
There was a doubt about captain and wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick due to a finger injury, but it looks as if he will play. However, Will Tavare and Craig Miles are still sidelined.
Gareth Roderick (c, wk), Chris Dent, Cameron Bancroft, Ian Cockbain, Hamish Marshall, George Hankins, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Jack Taylor, Josh Shaw, Liam Norwell, David Payne, Tom Hampton
Worcestershire, in addition to Moeen Ali, include overseas player, right- arm quick bowler Matt Henry in their squad for his county debut. The New Zealander is with Worcestershire for the first part of the summer, to be replaced by South African Kyle Abbott in the second half.
Daryl Mitchell (c), Brett D’Oliveira, Moeen Ali, Joe Clarke, Tom Kohler- Cadmore, Ross Whitely, Ben Cox, Joe Leach, Ed Barnard, Matt Henry, Jack Shantry, Charlie Morris
Weather and conditions:
The weather forecast for Bristol for the duration of the match is mainly dry and cold, with the possibility of light rain later in the match.
Date: 24th-27th April 2016.
Ground: The Brightside Ground, Bristol.
Umpires: Martin Saggers and Ian Blackwell
Odds (SkyBet): Gloucestershire 6/5, Derbyshire 4/6