For Warwickshire, after the Lord’s show comes the scramble to sweep up a few points and avoid relegation. The newly crowned Royal London champions now have to re-adjust their sights, and seek the win that will keep them out of the bottom two places in the Championship table.
If Hampshire beat Durham and Warwickshire fail to beat Lancashire, the eight point advantage held by the Bears will not be enough to avoid the drop. If, on the other hand, both Hampshire and Warwickshire win, it will be goodbye to the Red Rose county.
All the more reason, of course, for both Lancashire and Warwickshire to be at full strength for this final game of the season. Not so. Like helicopter parents who hover over their children’s lives and stifle their growth, the ECB believes it knows better than the players themselves when they should and should not play for their counties.
And so, Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler have both been made unavailable. The ECB has expressed concern that top cricketers are not readily recognised by the general public. Watch out for Chris or Jos in your local supermarket over the next four days, because for sure they won’t be on display at Edgbaston.
For Warwickshire the key man is, inevitably, Jeetan Patel. This will be the second successive season in which he has appeared in every game for the Bears, in every competition. And what a season he has had! He’s just three victims short of claiming 100 wickets in all competitions. Few would bet against him achieving that landmark.
You can list the great overseas players who have performed for the Bears over the years – Rohan Kanhai, Lance Gibbs, Alvin Kallicharan, Allan Donald, Brian Lara, Kumar Sangakkara – and then debate whether any of them have given as much wholehearted and successful effort to the team, match after match as the modest New Zealander.
The young Lancashire man that we all want to see is teenager Haseeb Hameed, selected for the England squad. He is nicknamed Baby Boycott because of his correct technique and ability to accumulate with patient persistence. 1154 Championship runs at an average of over 50 are evidence of his class. Even Warwickshire fans will be keen to find out what all the fuss is about, though their enthusiasm may diminish if the young man bats for all four days and blocks the Bears out of both the game and the top division.
As well as Chris Woakes, Warwickshire will be without Varun Chopra, departed early to Essex. Right now, Chopra is the only member of the Bears’ 2016 squad guaranteed Division One cricket next year. Tim Ambrose is expected to keep wicket despite nursing a leg injury, but reserve wicket keeper Alex Mellor will also play as an opening batsman. Three spinners are included, Josh Poysden being added to the two (Patel and Ateeq Javid) who played such a major part at Lord’s.
Warwickshire squad: Ian Bell (c), Tim Ambrose (wk), Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Sam Hain, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Ateeq Javid, Alex Mellor, Jeetan Patel, Josh Poysden, Jonathan Trott, Ian Westwood, Chris Wright
In addition to Jos Buttler, Lancashire will be without Alviro Peterson who has scored over 1100 runs this season but has now returned to South Africa.
Lancashire squad: Steven Croft (c and wk), Tom Bailey, Karl Brown, Nathan Buck, Jordan Clark, Haseeb Hameed, Kyle Jarvis, Simon Kerrigan, Danny Lamb, Arron Lilley, Liam Livingstone, Luke Procter, Rob Jones.
Weather and conditions
The forecast is for four mainly dry, if cloudy, days with only light winds. Recent one day successes on worn pitches may tempt the home side to produce a similar surface for this match, hence the three spinner in the home squad.
Date: 20-23 September 2016
Time: 10.30 pm
Ground: Stadium Edgbaston
Umpires: to be confirmed
Odds (SkyBet): Warwickshire 8/13 ; Lancashire 5/4