After the thrills and spills of the NatWest T20 Blast, we return, briefly at least, to the more traditional longer form of the game as County Champions Middlesex entertain Warwickshire at Lord’s for four days starting on Sunday.
Exactly a month ago, on 6 July, the reverse fixture between the two teams came to a climactic conclusion at Edgbaston as Middlesex sneaked home by just one wicket.
The victory lifted Middlesex to joint fifth in the table, consigned Warwickshire to a fifth defeat out of eight matches played, and sent them to the bottom of the table.
In a season when a quarter (two out of eight) of the teams will be relegated, Middlesex are still not safe from the drop.
As for the Bears, they are drinking in the last chance saloon and last orders have been called. Victory against Middlesex might open up a path to safety, but it will require a massive turnaround in the last six matches of the Championship season to keep them in the top flight.
For Middlesex, Adam Voges makes a return after a calf injury. He was averaging 57.50 prior to the injury; and he brings a large dose of experience and know-how to the Middlesex batting line-up.
Warwickshire welcome back Chris Woakes to their squad. Woakes has recovered from injury and will be keen to show the England selectors that he is fit for international action.
Middlesex are without England men Dawid Malan and Toby Roland-Jones. In addition, Paul Stirling and Ollie Rayner are injured. Steven Finn has been released from the England squad and is available. Nathan Sowter and Harry Podmore are also included in the 14 man squad..
Middlesex squad: James Franklin (captain), Nick Compton, Stephen Eskinazi, Steven Finn, Nick Gubbins, James Harris, Tom Helm, Ryan Higgins, Tim Murtagh, Harry Podmore, Sam Robson, John Simpson (wicket-keeper), Nathan Sowter, Adam Voges
There are new faces in the Warwickshire squad. Dominic Sibley and Rikki Clarke have swapped counties, and Sibley comes straight into the Bears squad.
There is another familiar name, Ryan Sidebottom, also on the list. But this is not the Yorkshire and England Ryan. He is, in fact, a 27-year old fast bowler who has impressed for Berkswell in the Birmingham League and taken 15 wickets in two Warwickshire Second Team games.
As well as Woakes, Chris Wright also returns from injury.
Warwickshire squad: Ian Bell (captain), Tim Ambrose (wicket-keeper), Keith Barker, Sam Hain, Matthew Lamb, Jeetan Patel, Boyd Rankin, Dominic Sibley, Ryan Sidebottom, Sunny Singh, Jonathan Trott, Andy Umeed, Chris Woakes, Chris Wright
Weather and conditions
After dry weather on the first two days, the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday looks more problematic. With the Lord’s pitch making it tough to take 20 wickets in the match, a draw, which would suit neither side, looks a distinct possibility.
Date: 6-9 August 2017
Time: 11.00 am
Odds (SkyBet): Middlesex 8/15; Warwickshire 6/4