It’s County Cricket Jim, but not as we know it, if you turn up to the 3aaa County Ground in time for an 11am start on Monday morning, or any other morning this week to be fair, you will be two and a half hours early, as day/night Championship cricket arrives in Derby for the first time. It will be pink balls, different start times and arguments about whether to still call the first break at 3.30pm “lunch”.
Leicestershire arrive after falling desperately close to winning three successive County Championship matches, narrowly losing to Middlesex by one wicket. Derbyshire, on the other hand, return to their home base from the Welsh seaside having battled for a draw on the last day after being on top for the first two days.
Those results leave the home side in 6thand the visitors in 4th, with just nine points separating them from one another. A win could push both sides, who were widely tipped by pundits at the start of the season as wooden spoon contenders, to be promotion candidates instead.
The bookies make this game even Stevens and it is easy to see why. Both sides have played some excellent cricket this season in the Championship. However, they have also both played some very ordinary cricket and have both lacked consistency, managing to get in promising positions and then letting them slip through their fingers.
With the game being a day/night fixture, though, the form book can go out the window, with the pink ball often swinging around corners when the lights come on, so be prepared for some funky declarations as the sides try to make the most of conditions.
I can’t pick a winner here; the sides are evenly matched and with a pink ball in play anything could happen. Lets just hope for a close fought contest with a positive result.
In a type of match where conditions can make batting tricky, you need your best batsman to be on song and Derbyshire will be hoping that Wayne Madsen will be singing like a bird over the next four days. Madsen has scored 26 centuries for the club and he will be hoping to add to that when he gets his chance, after making 96 runs over his two innings last time out. Madsen has the ability and patience to bat when the ball is swinging and seaming around, and he also has the ability to score quickly when the pink ball goes soft. Either way, if Wayne Madsen scores well, then Derbyshire’s chances of victory will be greatly enhanced.
Likewise for Leicestershire, it will be a batsman that is key to their success under the lights this week, and that man is Mark Cosgrove. The portly Australian makes me feel like I could be a professional sportsman in stature, but not most importantly in ability. He has been consistency personified for Leicestershire over the years, and they will be hoping he can add to the 259 runs he has scored in the Championship this season. If he can, and if he can be the force in the middle order everyone knows he can be, then Leicestershire may well return down the M1 with their third first class victory of the season.
Derbyshire have named a 13-man squad for this day/night fixture against Leicestershire. It includes Ben Slater and Alex Hughes, who performed so well at Swansea, and Daryn Smit returns as Gary Wilson is on Ireland duties. Duanne Oliver is likely to lead the bowling attack in his final game for Derbyshire, and James Kettleborough is named in the squad for this first time this season.
Derbyshire CCC squad: Godleman (c), B Slater, W. Madsen,A. Hughes, J. Kettleborough, M. Critchley, H. Hosein, D. Smit, H. Viljoen, T. Palladino,R. Rampaul, D. Olivier, H. Qadri
Leicestershire make one change to the side that came agonisingly close to beating Middlesex last time, with Zak Chappell’s shoulder injury putting him out of contention along with Ned Eckersley, Dieter Klein, Tom Taylor and Rob Sayer. Eckersley’s continued absence means Lewis Hill will again don the wicket keeping gloves. It is hard to predict who’ll miss out, but it’ll probably be from amongst the bowlers due to it being a day/night fixture, where the emphasis has always been on swing. But with such dry weather recently I still expect Parkinson to play, giving a quality spin option.
Leicestershire CCC squad: P Horton (c), M Abbas, C Ackermann, M Cosgrove, H Dearden, N Dexter, G Griffiths, L Hill, A Javid, R Jones, C Parkinson, B Raine, H Swindells.
Weather and conditions
Leave your brollies at home, pickup your sun cream and head on down to down town Derby, because the weather is set fair for four days. With the temperatures looking steady in the mid to high 20s, it should be pretty comfortable watching. There has been very little rain in Derby over the last few weeks so expect the pitch to be dry and prone to turn especially later in the match, if not later in the day as the lights take effect.
Date: 25thJune – 28thJune 2018
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire CCC 10/11 Leicestershire CCC 10/11