Friday sees the return of County Championship cricket to Derby for the first time this season as they welcome Northamptonshire to the 3aaa County Ground, fresh from their impressive victory over Glamorgan in their opening game – which came inside two days.
Northamptonshire will be looking to build on their demolition of Glamorgan, winning by an innings and 22 runs before the sun had set on the second day of the game, while Derbyshire will be looking to make a similarly good start to their season following a disappointing 2016 where they failed to win a single County Championship game.
While Northamptonshire were dispatching Glamorgan, Derbyshire were drawing with the students of Loughborough in a high-scoring draw, which saw batsmen filling their boots and bowlers toiling away on a very flat track. Two very different preparations for this game therefore, but both useful in their own ways. Northamptonshire going in with competitive match experience will stand them in better stead for this game.
Since last season Derbyshire have added to their ranks bringing in a number of new faces, to rejuvenate the squad and add experience to a youthful and talented squad, a model which Northamptonshire have used well to their own advantage too.
Both now have experience in players like Gary Wilson, Billy Godleman, Wayne Madsen and Hardus Viljoen for Derbyshire and Alex Wakely, Richard Levi and Rory Kleinveldt for Northamptonshire to guide their younger players.
While Derbyshire may have a changed and rejuvenated squad, Northamptonshire’s squad is a picture of consistency with only one permanent new arrival coming to the club over the Winter in the form of Nathan Buck. Derbyshire have seen the arrival of Wilson, Luis Reece, Viljoen, and overseas player Jeevan Mendis. They will be hoping that their new faces can gel quickly and make a good start to the season and put last season’s woes behind them,. Northamptonshire though will simply be looking to carry on where they left off against Glamorgan last week.
Northants will go into this game as favourites, but with their new signings Derbyshire will be hoping to cause an upset and get their season off to a flying start. Whichever way the game goes, both sides will be glad to play each other after last season’s fixture was controversially completely washed out at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield.
Number three has been a troublesome position for Derbyshire and this is where we are told Shiv Thakor will bat this season. He scored valuable runs lower down the order and this will be a big step up for him with increased responsibility. However he has shown he has the temperament for this move. Thakor will also be required to weigh in with wickets from his ever-improving bowling too, and his ability to score runs and take wickets makes him vital to the balance and success of the side.
If you want to win cricket matches you need to take wickets and Ben Sanderson has been doing that by the bucket load for Northants. He picked up where he left off last season taking, 7 wickets in the opening game of the season, to go with his 55 Championship wickets last season.
Derbyshire have a fully fit squad to choose from, with all their winter signings available and overseas player Jeevan Mendis in the country and raring to go.
Derbyshire squad: Billy Godleman (c), Ben Cotton, Will Davies, Alex Hughes, Wayne Madsen, Jeevan Mendis, Tom Milnes, Tony Palladino, Luis Reece, Ben Slater, Daryn Smit, Shiv Thakor, Gary Wilson (wk)
Northamptonshire are likely to name the same side which dealt so comfortably with Glamorgan last week with no new injury issues and Ben Duckett still made available for selection by the ECB.
Northamptonshire squad: Alex Wakely (c), Nathan Buck, Josh Cobb, Steven Crook, Ben Duckett, Max Holden, Rob Keogh, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, Rob Newton, Adam Rossington (wk), Ben Sanderson, Graeme White
Derbyshire : LDDLD
Northamptonshire : WWWWL
Form includes last season’s results
Weather and conditions
With the signing of Mendis it will be interesting to see if the pitches provided by Derbyshire this season will be offering turn from an early point in the game. However the ultimate winner of this game could well be the weather with showers forecast for days one and three, it could prove to be a frustrating few days for both sides.
Date: 14th-17th April 2017
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire 6/5 Northamptonshire 4/6