For many, Gloucestershire against Glamorgan is just another game in the County Championship, however in recent years this fixture has seen some enthralling cricket played out.
Last season an extraordinary 25 wickets fell on the first day when the sides met at Cheltenham. In 2016, the last Championship fixture between the sides in Bristol, Glamorgan collapsed from 87-0 to 143 all out chasing 269.
The visitors, who have not beaten their opponents in four-day cricket since 2013, may well have their work cut out again as they face a team high on confidence after their victory over Kent.
New signings Dan Worrall and Ryan Higgins were both in the wickets, the latter claiming his maiden five-wicket haul in Championship cricket. Batsmen Gareth Roderick and Benny Howell also scored crucial half centuries on what was a spicy Canterbury wicket.
Glamorgan were one of a number of sides who didn’t have a game in the opening round of fixtures and although the thought may be that they are undercooked compared to their opponents, they do have a pre-season tour to Dubai under their belts and were involved in a three-day game against Cardiff MCCU last week.
Michael Hogan continues as first-class captain and Australian international Shaun Marsh replaces Jacques Rudolph as the clubs overseas player. He will bat at three and his performances will be vital in a team that picked up the fewest number of batting points in Division Two last season.
Former club captain Gareth Roderick’s fifty in the first innings against Kent was one of the key contributions in Gloucestershire’s opening round victory. No longer burdened with the captaincy, the wicket-keeper can get back to focusing on his batting. A majestic player on his day, he oozes class with bat in hand and his contribution from number three will be vitally important if his team are to score the runs necessary to continue their good start to the season.
Timm van der Gugten burst onto the scene in his opening season for Glamorgan back in 2016. He took 56 wickets and was the Welsh county’s player of the year. Injury limited him to just five appearances in first-class cricket last year, however the Dutchman still took 22 wickets at an average of 22.95. Capable of bowling at 90mph, his express pace is a challenge for any batsmen.
Last season’s standout bowler Liam Norwell is back in the Gloucestershire squad. The seamer picked up a hamstring injury in pre-season but bowled 16 overs in a second XI game in Cardiff and should make his first appearance of the season here, likely in place of Kieran Noema-Barnett or Craig Miles. Otherwise expect an unchanged team from the victory over Kent.
Gloucestershire Squad: Chris Dent (c), James Bracey, Ryan Higgins, Benny Howell, Craig Miles, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Liam Norwell, Gareth Roderick (wk), Jack Taylor, Matt Taylor, Graham Van Buuren, Dan Worrall.
It has been confirmed that Shaun Marsh will bat at three and we can expect a similar team to that which faced Cardiff MCCU last weekend.
Glamorgan Squad: Michael Hogan (C), Lukas Carey, Kiran Carlson, Chris Cooke, Marchant de Lange, Aneurin Donald, David Lloyd, Shaun Marsh, Jack Murphy, Andrew Salter, Nick Selman, Timm Van Der Gugten
Weather and conditions
To the relief of both sets of supporters, we should have an uninterrupted game of cricket this weekend. Days one and two will be warm with plenty of sunshine and although it will cool down for the final two days, it should remain dry.
Regular visitors to the Brightside Ground will know it wasn’t the quickest of pitches in 2017, so intrigue surrounds the kind of wicket that will be prepared here.
Date: 20th – 23rd April 2018
Ground: The Brightside Ground
Odds (SkyBet): Gloucestershire 8/11, Glamorgan 11/10