Sunday is the day all county cricket fans have been waiting for, as County Championship cricket returns and newly promoted Surrey will travel to last season’s third placed side Nottinghamshire, with both sides looking to make a good start to the season and gain early momentum.
Both sides have been in action against the students in pre-season. Nottinghamshire displayed excellent form in their crushing defeat of Cambridge MCCU by 517 runs last week.
Surrey also had a good run out, drawing against Loughborough MCCU where a number of their batsmen scored runs, and new signing Mark Footitt and Tom Curran sharing eight wickets between them.
Both sides have seen change off the field this winter, with Peter Moores consultant position being made permanent at Nottinghamshire and Michael di Venuto replacing the Sri Lanka bound Graham Ford. It will be interesting to see how having new men involved will bring out the best in two undoubtedly highly talented and exciting squads.
With the new regulations regarding the toss and the visiting captain having the choice of whether to bowl first, Gareth Batty as a spinning captain will be hoping to arrive at Trent Bridge to be greeted by a dry true pitch, which will benefit both himself and England hopeful Zafar Ansari.
However, as my garden will testify, the East Midlands has been on the receiving end of substantial rain fall and there may well be more than a tinge of green at Trent Bridge on Sunday.
Overall Nottinghamshire will start as favourites due to their form at the back end of last season and the early part of this season, although Surrey’s Division Two championship form will be still fresh in the minds of the away dressing room.
Nottinghamshire’s Samit Patel will be keen to remind the England selectors that he is still an option for them in their middle order following his time spent with the side this Winter, during which he played one Test vs Pakistan. Patel is crucial to Nottinghamshire’s balance, offering consistent middle order runs and a vital spin option to the side. They will need him to perform to help them mount a title challenge.
Following his winter move from Derbyshire, Mark Footitt will be keen to press his early season England claims and push for a place in the first Test squad of the summer. He will also be striving to show he can replicate his form for Derbyshire consistently in Division One cricket.
Nottinghamshire have had bittersweet news from the ECB regarding their England players. With some absent and some available for selection, they will be without Alex Hales and Stuart Broad but will have Samit Patel and James Taylor available for selection.
James Taylor misses out through illness and Greg Smith comes into the squad. Jackson Bird, their Australian overseas signing, will be in line to make his County Championship debut.
Nottinghamshire squad: Chris Read (captain, wicketkeeper) Jake Ball, Jackson Bird, Harry Gurney, Brett Hutton, Michael Lumb, Steven Mullaney, Samit Patel, Greg Smith, Brendan Taylor, Riki Wessels, Luke Wood.
Surrey welcome back World T20 star Jason Roy, fresh from his exploits in helping England reach the final in India. Surrey could potentially include new signings Mark Footitt and Ravi Rampaul in their squad. Stuart Meaker will miss out after being injured in the nets when he was hit in groin while not wearing a box, something that required him to have surgery.
Kumar Sangakkara will also return as Surrey’s overseas signing, bringing class and more importantly runs to the side.
Surrey squad: Gareth Batty (captain), Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Steven Davies, Matthew Dunn, Ben Foakes (wicket-keeper) Mark Footitt, Arun Harinath, Ravi Rampaul, Jason Roy, Kumar Sangakkara, Gary Wilson
The Weather looks set fair for the first two days of the match, with rain coming in on days three and four. The East Midlands has seen a great deal of rain recently, so conditions could well be damp and green when the covers come off on Sunday.
Date: 10th – 13th April 2016
Ground: Trent Bridge
Umpires: David Millns & Tim Robinson
Odds (SkyBet): Nottinghamshire 4/6, Surrey 11/10