There aren’t too many cricket grounds that are more appealing to visit than Trent Bridge and it will be Durham’s turn today, as two sides who have made good starts in the north group go head-to-head in front of the Sky cameras.
Both Notts and Durham go into the game after wins against Leicestershire and Northants respectively and will be aiming to establish a gap on one another by getting a win on Thursday, as the group makes tight reading.
Both teams have tried to play an attacking brand of cricket thus far, with both bat and ball, in the competition and are evenly matched going into it – meaning the prospect of gaining two points will be even bigger for going into the final two group matches afterwards.
The visitors, led by the in-form Keaton Jennings, sit fourth in the group whilst Notts are just one place above despite accumulating one less point than their opponents.
Durham began the campaign on minus two points, due to a penalty enforced by the ECB after financial trouble, so are having to play catch up on Peter Moores’ men. They sit on just five points after three wins, one defeat and one no-result from five games.
The point deduction hasn’t stopped Durham though, and the new leadership of Keaton Jennings has seemed to have a positive effect on the team after just the one defeat so far at Headingly, where Yorkshire chased down over 330 runs to win after a Jonny Bairstow masterclass.
The game isn’t an easy one to call – and the Bookies have edged Notts as slight favourites at Trent Bridge after three fantastic wins in a row, but Durham will be in buoyant mood to cause a surprise come Thursday.
For the hosts, it’s proved to be an unexpected player to look out for. The youngster Billy Root averages in the three figures with the bat so far, and achieved his maiden one-day century against Warwickshire last week. Batting at six, Root has the pressure off him to come in and free his arms, and he’s done just that this season in white-ball cricket and will be in a confident mood.
Prior to the season, any Durham fan would have picked out batter Michael Richardson as one who had to step up. The back-up wicket-keeper Stuart Poynter is the one to have done exactly that so far in the campaign, and has started the season like a steam-train. The 30-year-old has three 50s and one century to his name already in the campaign at an average of 117. Batting at number three, he has proved a massive thorn for bowling sides in the early days of the 2017 season.
Notts are boosted with the return of Alex Hales and Jake Ball from their England duties, and have named a strong 12-man squad. They have plenty of experience in the likes of Patel, Read and Broad whilst the youth of Billy Root gives the squad a nice balance and plenty of talent on show.
The visitors will be forced into a change at the top of the order as oversees opener Stephen Cook has been recalled by Cricket South Africa relating to issues surrounding his contract. Gareth Harte could make his debut in his place, after impressing in the second XI, notably scoring 183 against Northants last week. England bowler Mark Wood returns to the squad after the duo of internationals against Ireland like Hales and Ball.
Notts Squad: Brendan Taylor, James Pattinson, Steven Mullaney, Chris Read (c & wk), Stuart Broad, Rikki Wessels, Alex Hales, Harry Gurney, Samit Patel, Jake Ball, Michael Lumb, Billy Root.
Durham Squad: Keaton Jennings (c), Graham Clark, Michael Richardson, Cameron Steel, Paul Collingwood, Gareth Harte, Ryan Pringle, Paul Coughlin, Stuart Poynter (wk), James Weighell, Mark Wood, Chris Rushworth, George Harding.
Weather and conditions
The forecast for today’s game looks a good one: sun all morning with a cloudy but warm afternoon that projects highs of 16 degrees Celsius. It might well be a win the toss and bat first kind of day, on what should be a hard Trent Bridge pitch and usually quick outfields. Spectators might even need their sun cream.
Date: 11th May 2017
Ground: Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Umpires: Cook and Robinson
Odds (SkyBet): Notts 4/7, Durham 11/8