Championship cricket returns to the Brightside Ground, Bristol, for the first time in almost two months as Division Two leaders Nottinghamshire take on seventh placed Gloucestershire. It is the second time the two sides have met in two weeks, Nottinghamshire inflicting a heavy defeat on Gloucestershire when the sides met at Trent Bridge a fortnight ago.
Nottinghamshire, with four red-ball wins under their belts, will be keen to get back to winning ways after narrowly avoiding their first Championship defeat of the season against Derbyshire at home last week. Chasing 216 to win Derbyshire were just 26 short when rain and bad light put a stop to proceedings early on the last afternoon.
Gloucestershire were without a game last week, so the memory of their thumping at the hands of tomorrow’s visitors will be fresh in their minds. It was a performance that did little to overcome the impression that this season has seen the Nevil Road side make little progress. With only one four day win, and an early exit from the Royal London One- Day Cup, the NatWest Blast is the only competition that offers the county’s followers a real hope of success.
On the other hand Nottinghamshire are set on a swift return to the First Division, from which they were surprisingly relegated last summer. Their early season form has confirmed their status as title favourites, in addition to gaining a quarter-final tie in the 50 over competition.
The presence of stars such as Stuart Broad (22 wickets), James Pattinson (31 wickets), Michael Lumb (482 runs), Riki Wessels (668 runs) and Samit Patel 569 runs) give the Trent Bridge county an advantage of which most Second Division counties can only dream.
At the start of this season, Chris Liddle would have been an unlikely choice as a key man in a Gloucestershire Championship match. The 33 year-old Tees-sider arrived at Nevil Road last season after eight seasons with Sussex.
Little went right for the lanky left-arm seamer, after a nightmare debut against his former employer in the T20 match at Bristol. Such was the liking that Ross Taylor took to Liddle’s deliveries, he went for 35 in just two overs. That was the end of Lidlle’s senior season, but this year he seems to have put this unhappy experience behind him. He has been a regular in both the Championship and Royal London One-Day Cup teams this time around, and has taken 24 wickets – 18 of them with the white ball at 15 apiece.
Indian Test star Cheteshwar Pujara is in his first spell for Nottinghamshire, having spent time in England with Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Pujara is something of a throwback to the days of red-ball specialists as a batsman, hence his absence from the current ICC Trophy squad. But this should not be seen as a criticism of the 29-year-old right-hander, who has scored nearly 4000 runs in Tests for India at an average of over 50.
His consistency was something of a thorn in the side of both England and Australia in India this past winter, as he maintained his Test average in both series, scoring over 400 runs in each. Gloucestershire’s bowlers will be unlikely to give Pujara the warmest of West Country welcomes this weekend, as the Indian hit his maiden Nottinghamshire century against them at Trent Bridge a fortnight ago.
Gloucestershire welcome David Payne and Gareth Roderick back into the first team squad. Payne missed the whole of the Royal London Cup campaign and the match against Nottinghamshire due to a hernia operation. Illness has caused Roderick to miss all of the Championship campaign so far this season. Liam Norwell’s back injury again causes him to miss out.
Gloucestershire Squad: Cameron Bancroft, Chris Dent, Gareth Roderick (c), Will Tavaré, Phil Mustard (wk), Graeme van Buuren, George Hankins, Jack Taylor, Kieran Norma- Barnett, Craig Miles, Chris Liddle, Matt Taylor, David Payne
Nottinghamshire have yet to name their squad. It is likely to be the same as that which was chosen for the Derbyshire match, with Stuart Broad again rested ahead of the forthcoming Test series.
Possible Squad: Brendan Taylor, Steven Mullaney, Jake Libby, Cheteshwar Pujara, Samit Patel, Michael Lumb, Riki Wessels, Chris Read(c)(wk), Brett Hutton, Luke Wood, Luke Fletcher, Harry Gurney, Ben Kitt, Matt Milnes
Weather and conditions
The forecast for Bristol for the weekend is variable, albeit that the rain threatened may be light and patchy. Pitches at the Brightside Ground have been varied this season in the amount of pace and bounce offered.
Date: June 9th – 12th
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: The Brightside Ground, Bristol.
Umpires: Martin Saggers and Russell Warren.
Odds. (SkyBet): Gloucestershire win 13/8, Nottinghamshire win 1/2.