The good news for Glamorgan is that they retain a healthy lead over both Leicestershire and Durham in division two. They are even in front of Worcestershire, the team they will face in their first home game of the season. The bad news is that they are only in front of Leicestershire and Durham due to ECB sanctions, and Worcestershire have not even played in the County Championship yet.
If Glamorgan are going to remain four spaces away from the foot of the table, or even improve on that position, they will need to find rapid solutions to the problems that were exposed by fellow financial strugglers Northamptonshire in their bruising two-day innings defeat at Wantage Road.
Ben Sanderson took match figures of 7-21 in the match which started with Glamorgan being dismissed for 101 – a merciful recovery after their top order collapsed to 26-6. David Lloyd bagged a pair and Glamorgan’s top three made just 34 runs in the match between them.
They avoided the wooden spoon last season thanks to a dismal season for Derbyshire, but have been widely tipped to struggle this year and may well find themselves near the bottom of the 10-team division this time around.
Worcestershire, meanwhile, will consider themselves as having an outside chance of snatching a promotion spot if either of the favourites, Sussex and Nottinghamshire, have a poor run of form.
They came third last season and if the promotion/relegation arrangements had been as they usually are, would only have been ten points away from going up.
Worcestershire’s coach, Steve Rhodes, has heightened tensions ahead of the clash by publicly criticising Glamorgan for their reliance on Kolpak players, suggesting that they should be focusing on developing Welsh talent instead.
The merits of his opinions aside, it will be interesting to see whether this fires up his players, or motivates the opposition to put him in his place.
While his teammates were tumbling like tenpins around him, Aneurin Donald emerged from Glamorgan’s first match with a modicum of dignity. While his returns were unremarkable on paper – 34 and 15 are not going to turn many heads – his effort in the first innings was the only thing that saved Glamorgan from enormous humiliation. Still only 20 and born in Swansea, Donald is already a key figure in the Glamorgan dressing room and a strong showing from him would prove the club’s commitment to bringing through local talent alongside their Kolpak signings.
Jack Shantry has become something of a cult figure in recent years due to his unconventional bowling action and uniquely slow pace for a professional seam bowler. At times, this cult status detracts from his stellar record in county cricket: he makes up for his lack of pace with prodigious swing, and he has proven himself more than capable with a bat in his hand as well.
Glamorgan have not lost to Worcestershire in their last four home meetings (W2 D2).
Worcestershire finished the previous campaign having won three of their final match four matches (L1).
Worcestershire’s Joe Clarke posted 194 runs in his last County Championship innings (v Derbyshire, September 2016); his highest first-class score.
Joe Leach (Worcestershire) took more Division Two wickets than anyone else last season (65).
Glamorgan fans will be pleased to see the return of Michael Hogan, while Marchant de Lange will make his home debut and Harry Podmore (on loan from Middlesex for the second season in a row) is also included.
Glamorgan squad: Jacques Ruldolph (c), Lukas Carey, Kiran Carlson, Chris Cooke, Marchant de Lange, Aneurin Donald, Michael Hogan, Colin Ingram, David Lloyd, Craig Meschede, Harry Podmore, Andrew Salter, Nick Selman
Apart from Moeen Ali, Steve Rhodes has a full-strength squad at his disposal for this encounter, and Australian bowler John Hastings is expected to make his debut for the Pears.
Worcestershire squad: Joe Leach (c), Ed Barnard, Joe Clarke, Ben Cox (wk), Brett D’Oliveira, Tom Fell, John Hastings, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Daryl Mitchell, George Rhodes, Jack Shantry, Josh Tongue
Weather and conditions
Showers on Friday but otherwise dry and fine with mild temperatures. Last season, Worcestershire piled on 456-6 before reducing their hosts to 42-4, then rain came to the rescue.
Date: 14th-17th April 2017
Ground: Swalec Stadium
Odds (SkyBet): Glamorgan 5/4, Worcestershire 8/13