Two sides who finished in the bottom half of last season’s County Championship Division Two meet in this early season encounter at the Brightside Ground, Bristol, both hoping to get an early win under their belts.
Gloucestershire lost to Essex by ten wickets at Chelmsford in their first fixture so they will return to Bristol aiming to prove that the early season optimism surrounding the team’s chances is not without foundation.
For Derbyshire it is the start of their Championship campaign. They drew a rain affected game against Durham MCCU at Derby last week which provided some early season encouragement with unbeaten centuries for Wayne Madsen and Wes Durston.
Gloucestershire have a new red-ball skipper this season in Gareth Roderick who succeeds Geraint Jones, the former England player who played his last senior match at Lord’s last season in the county’s 50-over winning final.
Roderick, in his fourth season at Nevil Road, faces a demanding summer. He combines the captaincy with wicket-keeping and occupying a place high in the batting order.
But the 25-year-old South African got off to a highly encouraging start with the bat at Chelmsford, top scoring with an unbeaten 88 in the first innings and hitting a half-century in the team’s second bat.
Like Roderick, Derbyshire’s Wayne Madsen was born in Durban. He was the county’s captain for four years before handing over to Billy Godelman, and recently signed a contract to keep him at Derby until the end of 2019.
Such has been the South African’s success in England, he has scored more than 8000 first-class runs at an average of just shy of 40, that he nurses the ambition to play Test cricket for England, for whom he qualified this past winter.
He admits that stepping aside from the captaincy was in part to further his international claim, and with vacancies in England’s top order batting this seems a valid goal.
Gloucestershire are able to add left-arm seamer David Payne to the squad named for the Essex game as he has recovered from a finger injury. However they are still without fellow quick bowler Craig Miles and opening batsman Will Tavare, both of whom are nursing injuries.
The match is likely to provide an opportunity for home fans to see two new faces who featured at Chelmsford: opener Australian Cameron Bancroft and on-loan Yorkshire paceman Josh Shaw.
Gloucestershire squad: Gareth Roderick (captain, wicket-keeper), Cameron Bancroft, Ian Cockbain, Chris Dent, Tom Hampton, Benny Howell, Chris Liddle, Hamish Marshall, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Liam Norwell, David Payne, Josh Shaw, Jack Taylor
Derbyshire will be captained by New Zealander Hamish Rutherford in the absence of new skipper Godleman who is out for up to five weeks with a fractured thumb.
The Midlands county have bolstered their squad by adding burly Nottinghamshire seamer Luke Fletcher on a month’s loan. He will be available for Derbyshire’s first five Championship fixtures, and will assist the county in their bid to adjust to life without Mark Footitt who left at the end of 2015 to join Surrey.
Fellow Kiwi batsman Neil Broom is also set to make his Derbyshire debut. He has signed for the county for the summer.
Derbyshire squad: Hamish Rutherford (captain), Neil Broom, Ben Cotton, Wes Durston, Luke Fletcher, Chesney Hughes, Wayne Madsen, Tony Palladino, Tom Poynton (wicket-keeper), Ben Slater, Tom Taylor, Shiv Thakor
Weather and conditions
The weather forecast for Bristol for the duration of the match is mainly dry with sunny intervals with temperatures slightly below average for mid-April.
Date: 17 – 20 April 2016
Ground: The Brightside Ground, Bristol.
Umpires: Nick Cook & Alex Wharf
Odds (SkyBet): Gloucestershire 10/11, Derbyshire 10/11