This is a contest between the two teams who lead Division Two of the Specsavers County Championship. Let us not get in too much of a frenzy about that. The reality is that, after the first three rounds of matches, there are six counties within three points of each other at the top of the fledgling table.
What this match does represent is an opportunity for one or other of these teams to establish the genuineness of their promotion credentials after promising starts.
Following a rain-affected draw with Sussex, Warwickshire managed to defeat Northants in just three days, in large part due to the bowling of Australian Ryan Sidebottom.
Whereas in England, Ryan is almost always described as “the other Ryan Sidebottom”, in Australia, he is best known as the brother of Australian Rules footballer Steele Sidebottom.
With a few more performances like the 10-96 that he took against Northants, Ryan may finally emerge from the two large shadows cast by his namesake and sibling.
Whereas the home side started the season as favourites for the Division Two title, Derbyshire were rated by most as rank outsiders. But by beating another of the favourites, Middlesex, in their first game, the East Midlands side caused many to have a rethink.
Shrewd observers will have noted that the win was by the healthy margin of 101 runs and it followed a second innings declaration with only three wickets down.
In this millennium, the two teams have met only three times at Edgbaston in the Championship. All three matches have been drawn so supporters are due a little excitement.
Let us hope that these two well-matched sides can deliver just that.
For Warwickshire, wicket-keeper Tim Ambrose has made a glorious start to what may prove to be his last season for the Bears. His two innings to date of 81 and 103 have been typical efforts combining sound defence with the ability to pounce on the loose delivery and put it away.
Behind the stumps, he is rarely noticed, mainly because he makes few mistakes and just gets on with the job. When he retires, whether it be at the end of this season or later, he will be missed much more than many (maybe himself included) might expect.
Derbyshire’s 21-year-old all-rounder Matt Critchley is developing into a fine player, as he demonstrated earlier in the year both for the England Lions and the North. He may not get massive opportunities to twirl his leg-spinners but he tends to nip in with useful wickets and in the middle of the order, he regularly contributes valuable runs.
In recent times, Derbyshire have had few enough players with international potential so many both within and outside the county will be keen to see how the club nurtures Critchley’s undoubted talents.
Warwickshire have fitness doubts about key bowlers Olly Stone and Keith Barker. First team coach Jim Troughton is being cagey about their prospects. “We will see how Olly and Barks are close to the game,” he says. “It is a long season so what we won’t do is put them under pressure to come back too soon.”
Although they have been included in the squad, Troughton’s comments can be taken as a hint that Barker and Stone are more likely to miss out than to play. In that case, the team that beat Northants by an innings may take the field again, though Adam Hose is pressing hard for a place ahead of Matt Lamb.
Warwickshire squad: Jeetan Patel (c), Tim Ambrose (wk), Keith Barker, Ian Bell, Henry Brookes, Sam Hain, Adam Hose, Matt Lamb, Will Rhodes, Dom Sibley, Ryan Sidebottom, Olly Stone,Jonathan Trott, Chris Wright
For Derbyshire, the big news is that Mark Footitt has returned to the club on a short-term loan. The 32-year-old left-arm pace bowler played for Derbyshire for six years before starting a largely unsuccessful journey that has taken him to the Oval, Trent Bridge and now back to where he started.
Footitt goes straight into the squad, along with Daryn Smit and young spinner Hamidullah Qadri who are added to the eleven that faced Leicestershire.
Derbyshire squad: Billy Godleman (c), Gary Wilson (wk), Matt Critchley, Will Davis, Mark Footitt, Alex Hughes, Wayne Madsen, Duanne Olivier, Hamidullah Qadri, Ravi Rampaul, Luis Reece, Ben Slater, Daryn Smit, Hardus Viljoen
Form this season
Weather and conditions
Believe it or not, the forecast is for four dry days, with the temperature gradually rising to the dizzy heights of 20 degrees by day four.
Groundsman Gary Barwell normally produces a good surface, though with all the rain that has fallen on Edgbaston in the last month, it would be unwise to expect a pitch with any great pace.
Date: 3rd-6th May 2018
Time: 11.00 am
Umpires: Richard Illingworth and Neil Mallender
Odds (SkyBet): Warwickshire 1/2, Derbyshire 13/8