Confidence will be high in the ranks of both Lancashire and Nottinghamshire as the two sides meet in the opening round of the County Championship season.
Lancashire were impressive in Division One last year, defying those who tipped them for relegation by finishing second and producing a string of strong displays.
Notts only just missed out on a treble of sorts in 2017. They bounced back from their relegation to the second tier at the first attempt and, despite missing out on the title in the closing weeks, were dominant in red-ball cricket for the majority of the season.
They also did the white-ball double, clinching the Royal London One-Day Cup and T20 Blast crowns.
So both sides have reason to enter 2018 with a spring in their step. Notts will also have the extra belief of having seen Essex win the Division One title in their first season back in the top flight.
Their coach Peter Moores knows Lancashire well, having coached the side between 2009 and 2014 – guiding the Red Rose to their 2011 Division One title.
He has made a couple of additions to the Championship squad, with Paul Coughlin arriving from Durham and experienced opener Chris Nash arriving from Sussex. The retirement of Chris Read means Steven Mullaney is the new club captain.
Lancashire also have a couple of arrivals from Durham, with opener Keaton Jennings and 35-year-old seamer Graham Onions coming in alongside overseas bowler Joe Mennie. Like Notts, they have a new captain in Liam Livingstone.
Competition for places in Glen Chapple’s side is fierce, with former captain Steven Croft forcing his way back into contention with his pre-season form. Alex Davies, who enjoyed great success as opener, has been moved down to three to accommodate Jennings.
“It’s a strength of the team to have three people capable of opening the batting,” Chapple said.
“It’s been sorted out and I’m excited to see how the batting line-up goes. It shows Alex wants to do whatever he can for the team.
“Steven’s form is another sign of strength in the squad. What you expect from Crofty is that he will commit to working hard and doing everything he can to get in the team and he’s certainly done that.”
Lancashire have lost 88 wickets from last season with the departures of Ryan McLaren and Kyle Jarvis, so the performances of Joe Mennie will be crucial. The Australian seamer has a terrific first-class record, with a bowling average of 27.21. He has one Test to his name and will be determined to make an impression on county cricket.
Notts have had Chris Read at the helm for such a long time and so all eyes will be on Steven Mullaney as he starts his reign as skipper against former club Lancashire. An impressive winter, including a starring role for the North side in the North v South series, means the all-rounder enters the season with confidence and he’ll be keen to lead from the front at Old Trafford.
Saqib Mahmood misses out with a niggle but Graham Onions, Keaton Jennings and Joe Mennie are set to make their Lancashire debut. There will be a battle for middle-order places with Steven Croft set to feature after an impressive pre-season.
Lancashire Squad: Liam Livingstone (c), Tom Bailey, Shiv Chanderpaul, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, Alex Davies (wk), Haseeb Hameed, Keaton Jennings, Danny Lamb, Joe Mennie, Graham Onions, Stephen Parry, Matt Parkinson, Dane Vilas
Overseas signing Ross Taylor is included in the squad after a successful winter with New Zealand against England. Luke Fletcher returns after suffering that horrendous head injury in the T20 Blast last year.
Nottinghamshire Squad: Steven Mullaney (c), Jake Ball, Luke Fletcher, Mark Footitt, Harry Gurney, Jake Libby, Tom Moores (wk), Chris Nash, Samit Patel, Billy Root, Ross Taylor, Riki Wessels, Luke Wood
Weather and conditions
Early rain tomorrow may affect the start of the match but, other than a few scattered showers, the rest of the match should escape any serious interruptions. A wet winter means green pitches are prevalent across the county circuit, though Old Trafford is usually a decent batting track – especially on days two and three.
Date: 13th-16th April 2018
Ground: Emirates Old Trafford
Odds (SkyBet): Lancashire 4/6, Nottinghamshire 6/5