With Essex already having wrapped up the Specsavers County Championship Division Two title, the clash at the Brightside Ground, Bristol between Gloucestershire and Sussex has a distinctly end of season ring to it, especially as both counties are sitting in mid-table positions.
Sussex are in fifth position and Gloucestershire sixth, five points separating the teams. Both have won four matches. But there is pride to play for, and players with something to prove in both teams. They will each wish to go into the long winter ahead with a positive result.
The desire for a wining end to the season is particularly keen since both counties lost their penultimate game of the season last week. Gloucestershire were beaten by 114 runs at Wantage Road Northampton while Sussex lost out by the rather narrower margin of 11 runs to Worcestershire in a thrilling finish at Hove.
One bright spot of Gloucestershire’s defeat at Northampton was the century made by young right-handed batter George Hankins. It was the current England Under-19 player’s maiden Championship hundred. A former pupil of the famous sporting Millfield School, Hankins has an excellent pedigree. In 2015 he broke the school’s record for most runs in a season, held until then by Kent batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond.
Hankins, a local lad hailing from near Bath, is also a useful off spinner and spent last winter at the Darren Lehman Academy in Australia.
Since he made his List A debut for Sussex at the Cheltenham festival against Gloucestershire in the Royal London One-Day Cup 21 year-old Jofra Archer has been a regular in all formats for the South Coast side. Archer is a Barbadian all-rounder who bowls his right arm deliveries with deceptive pace off a relatively short run. He has played five Championship matches since his Cheltenham appearance taking 19 wickets at 31. In addition he has bagged 12 wickets in both white-ball formats. The former West Indies under-19 international has signed a full time contract at Hove until the end of 2017 – a major breakthrough for a youngster who started the summer playing for Horsham in the Sussex Premier League.
Local boy, 19 year- old James Bracey, will make his Championship debut for Gloucestershire. The wicketkeeper-batsman, who is about to start his second year at Loughborough University, signed an Academy contract in August 2015 having represented Gloucestershire in age group cricket since the age of 11. He will play as a specialist batsman after some good late season form in the second eleven, replacing Will Tavare who played at Northampton.
Gloucestershire squad: Gareth Roderick (c/wkt), Chris Dent, Hamish Marshall, James Bracey, George Hankins, Jack Taylor, Phil Mustard, Josh Shaw, Craig Miles, Liam Norwell, David Payne, Matt Taylor.
For Sussex Luke Wells returns to the squad after an eye infection kept him out of last week’s match with Worcestershire, but Ed Joyce remains sidelined with a knee injury. The visitors also take the opportunity to introduce young players, including in the squad two Academy prospects; batsman Tom Haines and all-rounder Delray Rawlins.
Sussex squad: Ben Brown (c/wkt), Chris Nash, Fynn Hudson-Prentice, Tom Haines, Ollie Robinson, Phil Salt, Luke Wells, Chris Jordan, Delray Rawlins, Abi Sakande, Jofra Archer, Danny Briggs, Steve Magoffin.
Weather and conditions
It is expected to be dry in Bristol for the duration of the match with temperatures normal for late September. For the most part pitches at the Brightside Ground have been slow
Date: 20, 21, 22, 23 September 2016.
Ground: Brightside Ground, Bristol
Odds (SkyBet): Gloucestershire 10/11, Sussex 10/11.