Essex and Yorkshire have arguably been involved in the most controversial game of cricket so far this season, and a ball wasn’t even bowled.
The two sides were scheduled to meet at Headingley back in the opening round of fixtures, but due to a wet outfield the match was abandoned.
While debate raged over whether more could have been done to ensure at least some of match could have gone ahead, both teams at least have an opportunity to test themselves against each other this weekend when they meet in Chelmsford.
England coach Trevor Bayliss will have one eye on proceedings, as Alastair Cook for Essex and Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow for Yorkshire are all available ahead of the test series against Pakistan later this month.
Amazingly, both sides will pass the quarter way point of their Championship seasons during this match. While it may seem that wins are not imperative at this stage of the year, one for either team will put them in a good position as the break for the Royal London One-Day Cup approaches.
Essex have made a respectable start to the defence of their trophy despite the horrific weather. They had to settle for a draw at the Ageas Bowl last week but did manage to pick up ten points for their efforts, alongside the washout at Headingley.
Sandwiched in between the two rain affected matches was an impressive win over Lancashire in which they showed they certainly have the credentials for another run at the title.
The jury is still out on Yorkshire, who after last season’s relegation battle will want to get back to fighting at the right end of the table. A win over Nottinghamshire was a good start but the batting frailties that plagued the side for much of last year returned at Taunton.
They will have the luxury of having two of world cricket’s premier batmen at their disposal for this match and the trip to the Oval next week. Andrew Gale will know his side must take advantage.
By wearing a woolly hat, Peter Siddle became the talk of the cricketing world during Essex’s game against Hampshire. The Australian, who is clearly still adjusting to the cold conditions, has taken five wickets so far this year but his 3-62 at the Rose Bowl showed the quality he possesses and he will be a handful on a Chelmsford wicket that offered plenty to the seamers in the one match played there in 2018.
— Peter Siddle (@petersiddle403) May 1, 2018
This may be the obvious choice but, after being bowled out for 96 against Somerset last week, Yorkshire will be delighted to have Joe Root back in their side. The England captain is available for the next two Championship matches. Despite a difficult winter, the quality Root possesses is unquestionable and along with trying to get himself into form for greater challenges to come, his contribution will be vital if Yorkshire are to fare better than their last trip to Chelmsford where they were thumped by 376 runs.
Essex have named a 13-man squad for the game but should stick with the same XI from the draw against Hampshire. Aaron Beard and Varun Chopra will likely miss out.
Essex Squad: Ryan ten Doeschate (c), Aaron Beard , Ravi Bopara , Nick Browne , Varun Chopra , Alastair Cook , Sam Cook , James Foster (wk), Simon Harmer , Dan Lawrence , Jamie Porter , Peter Siddle , Tom Westley.
Andy Hodd and Matthew Waite are the two replaced by the returning Bairstow and Root. Steven Patterson is also available after a finger injury which has prevented him from featuring so far this season.
Yorkshire Squad: Gary Ballance (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Tim Bresnan, Harry Brook, Jack Brooks, Karl Carver, Ben Coad, Jack Leaning, Adam Lyth , Steven Patterson, Cheteshwar Pujara, Joe Root , Josh Shaw.
Weather and Conditions
Luckily we should not see conditions similar to those at Headingley back in April. All four days are scheduled to be dry, with the bank holiday set bring back the sunshine with temperatures expected to reach 22° on Sunday and Monday.
Date: 4th-7th May 2018
Ground: The Cloudfm County Ground
Odds (SkyBet): Essex 10/11, Yorkshire 10/11