County Cricket’s version of the Community Shield kicks-off Sky Sports’ live coverage of the 2017 summer as Warwickshire begin the defence of their Royal London One-Day Cup title at Wantage Road, home of NatWest T20 Blast Champions Northamptonshire.
The new format of this year’s competition sees the group stage condensed into the next three weeks, and the short and sweet format will see all but six counties 50-over interest ended before the middle of May.
The One-Day Cup provide a rare chink of light in an otherwise disappointing start to the season at Edgbaston, but even a Lord’s victory wasn’t enough to prevent Dougie Brown from losing his job at the end of the summer.
A batting line-up featuring the undoubted class of Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell is more suited to the slightly leisurely pace of 50-over, in comparison to 20-over, cricket and after a difficult start to the new Championship season, the Bears might be welcoming a change of pace.
Northants meanwhile come in high on confidence with two wins and a narrow defeat at Worcester at the start of their Division Two campaign, and will relish being back in coloured clothing with their squad naturally geared towards white ball cricket rather than red.
In addition to their T20 triumph, Alex Wakely’s men finished top of the North group of the One-Day Cup in 2016, only beaten by Surrey in the quarter-final after a Kumar Sangakkara masterclass. Combined with an unfortunate injury to Richard Gleeson, it left a feeling of what might have been in the competition.
Richard Gleeson came from nowhere to take Northants’ white ball cricket by storm last summer, bowling up to 90mph and often taking early wickets in both the One-Day Cup and T20 Blast. His injury against Surrey was followed by further setbacks during the winter, but the 29-year-old has been eased back to full fitness in time for Thursday, and took a hat-trick in Tuesday’s second team clash with Derbyshire.
Ian Bell’s ODI career may have never reached its full potential but he remains a class act at domestic One-Day level, and was a key part alongside Trott in the engine room of Warwickshire’s batting as they lifted the trophy at Lord’s. He showed form with 99 in the Championship this week, and if the Bears are going to challenge once more, the skipper will need to lead from the front.
Northants welcome back Richard Gleeson, who didn’t feature in the three opening Championship games, after a series of winter injuries, however Rory Kleinveldt and Ben Sanderson don’t make the squad after injuries ruled them out of the game at Worcester last week. Nathan Buck is set to make a List A debut for the County.
Northants Squad: Muhammed Azharullah, Nathan Buck, Steven Crook, Josh Cobb, Ben Duckett, Richard Gleeson, Rob Keogh, Adam Rossington, Rob Newton, Richard Levi, Alex Wakely, Graeme White.
Warwickshire include leg-spinner Josh Poysden in a 14-man squad, having not featured in the Championship so far. However they have no new injury worries, Ian Westwood the only man omitted from the draw against Surrey, while Sam Hain returns and Grant Thornton could make his county debut if selected.
Warwickshire Squad: Ian Bell, Tim Ambrose, Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Sam Hain, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Ateeq Javid, Jeetan Patel, William Porterfield, Josh Poysden, Aaron Thomason, Grant Thornton, Jonathan Trott, Chris Wright.
Weather and Conditions
Unfortunately, the scorcher that was the opening weekend of the season seems a distant memory with a decidedly chilly spell this week set to continue on Thursday. Highs of only 11 degrees and rain showers could make it a frustrating afternoon and evening at Wantage Road.
Pitches at Northants, especially for white-ball cricket have generally been good for batting in recent years, especially the central wickets, which will be used with the TV cameras in town.
Date: Thursday April 27th 2017
Venue: Wantage Road, Northampton
Umpires: David Milns & Tim Robinson
Odds: Northants 10/11, Warwickshire 10/11