If you like your balls red and your clothes white then the 3aaa County ground is the place for you in the next four days as the Specsavers County Championship reappears after its Royal London One Day Cup enforced slumber.
Derbyshire welcome Worcestershire for the second time in a week, and they are hoping to avenge the defeat they suffered in the Royal London One Day Cup on Tuesday night.
This will not be easy for the home side, though, as they take on a team brimming with confidence, a side that have just topped the Northern Group in the RLODC and who haven’t lost in the Specsavers County Championship this season. Derbyshire on the other hand have just finished second in the Cup Northern Group and haven’t won a game in the Championship in over a year.
Derbyshire will be hoping to reverse that form report and the progress they have made this season would point to their ability to do this. Their batting has been strong, especially in the RLODC, and Ben Slater will be hoping that his impressive form in that competition will be enough to force his way into the Championship side as well.
The battle for Derbyshire, however, will be the twenty wickets they will need to win and, deprived of their two main wicket threats in Davis and Viljoen, they will need their other bowlers to step up and propel them to victory.
Worcestershire will be hoping their form continues and they can push those sides that are above them in the table, and put themselves in the promotion mix come the end of the season. They will be hoping that the ever reliable Daryl Mitchell can provide the runs along with the exciting young prospect Brett D’Oliveria as his foil.
For wickets they have the ultimate county pro in Jack Shantry and the irrepressible captain Joe Leach.
Overall it is easy to see why the bookies make Worcestershire favourites, form and the table point to a win for the Pears, and it is hard to look beyond that one-day cup result too. However, Derbyshire are hungry and desperate to convert promise to results, and there’s no time like the present.
Derbyshire are a side who have struggled to take wickets in the last year and, without Davis and Viljoen in the squad, the most experienced bowler in the squad will be key and that man is Tony Palladino. Palladino is always reliable, able to hold an end down and give captain Billy Godleman the control all captains crave, whilst being able to make the ball just talk enough to be a wicket threat too. He can also offer runs, with a First Class century to his name. If Derbyshire are to take the twenty wickets they need then I feel Palladino will be key to this happening.
Worcestershire are a team. Of course they are a team I hear you cry, but they truly are a team. They have no superstars, but everyone in the side knows their job and does it well and none does it better than skipper Joe Leach.
What do you want your captain and bowler to do? You want them to take wickets and that is what he has done this season. 13 of them, at an average of 18.46 to be precise. He can also contribute down the order with a few useful runs and has captained the side well. If Leach can continue to do what he does then I have no doubt that the rest of the side will do so too, Leach leads by example and that is why he is key.
Derbyshire have issues in the bowling unit with exciting young quick Will Davis side lined, and Winter kolpak signing Hardus Viljoen is also warming Fran Clarkson’s physio bench. However, the experienced Tony Palladino is fit again and raring to go. Following his impressive performances in the RLODC Daryn Smit will be wearing the wicket keeping gauntlets with Gary Wilson still away with Ireland for the tri series in the emerald isle.
Worcestershire have named a twelve man squad, with Australian overseas Nathan Lyon set to make his championship debut. He replaces fellow countryman John Hastings, who is joining up with his national side for the Champions Trophy. It is likely it will be youngster George Rhodes who misses out, which leaves Worcestershire with a very strong looking side.
Derbyshire squad: Billy Godleman (c), Ben Cotton, Matt Critchley, Alex Hughes, Rob Hemmings, Wayne Madsen, Jeevan Mendis, Tony Palladino, Luis Reece, Ben Slater, Daryn Smit (wk), Tom Taylor, Shiv Thakor.
Worcestershire squad: Joe Leach (c), Ed Barnard, Joe Clarke, Ben Cox (wk), Brett D’Oliveira, Tom Fell, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Daryl Mitchell, Nathon Lyon, George Rhodes, Jack Shantry, Josh Tongue.
Weather and conditions
Friday looks to be a frustrating day, with rain forecast throughout the day, but the following three days look to be fair so if you are planning to watch some cricket over the weekend, then you should be ok. The Derbyshire pitches for the Royal London One Day Cup have produced lots of runs so we can expect the same to continue, with the weather around on Friday, though I highly doubt we will see a contested toss to start the game.
Date: 19th May 2017 to 22nd May 2017
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Umpires: J Evans and R Evans
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire: 11/8 Worcestershire: 4/7