Kent head to Bristol to take on Gloucestershire for the third time this season when the County Championship returns on Saturday.
The spoils have been shared between the sides in their two previous encounters with Gloucestershire winning at Canterbury in the Championship whilst Kent won a high scoring One Day Cup game at Beckenham last Sunday.
This fixture signals the start of another block of Championship cricket before the Vitality Blast starts next month.
Kent will be looking to continue their fabulous season thus far that sees them second in Division Two after three consecutive wins. They have also qualified for the knockout stages of the One-Day Cup and their turbulent pre-season surrounding the departure of Sam Northeast seems a distant memory.
The hosts have not enjoyed such prosperity, but an encouraging draw in their last red-ball match against a very strong Middlesex side showed they can get back to winning ways in this format sooner rather than later. They will not be helped though by the injury to Dan Worrall who impressed during his short spell with the club.
Having burst onto the scene at the end of last season, James Bracey looks to be the middle-order batsmen Gloucestershire were looking for after Hamish Marshall retired. Two centuries in four games represents a wonderful effort from a man who has vastly outperformed some of his more experienced teammates. Perhaps the manner of his runs is his most impressive trait, his innings at Lord’s against Middlesex helping his team secure a draw on the final day.
Amazingly despite being in the promotion places, Kent have only picked up one batting bonus point in 2018. Though much of their success must go down to overseas star Matt Henry. The New Zealander has had a quite extraordinary stint at the club taking 37 wickets at an average of 9.5 in the Championship. On what can be quite a placid pitch at Bristol, his extra bit of quality will be vital if Kent are to push for a fourth successive win.
James Bracey and Kieran Noema-Barnett return to the Gloucestershire squad after both not featuring during the One Day Cup. George Hankins’ form in that very competition could hand him his first Championship appearance of the season. Young spinner George Drissell is also included, fresh from his List A debut against Middlesex.
Gloucestershire Squad: Chris Dent (c), James Bracey, George Drissell, George Hankins, Ryan Higgins, Benny Howell, Chris Liddle, Craig Miles, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Gareth Roderick (wk), Jack Taylor, Matt Taylor, Graeme van Buuren.
Joe Denly will captain Kent in the absence of Sam Billings, who is on England duty. Grant Stewart could also feature after recovering from a hamstring strain.
Kent Squad: Joe Denly (c), Daniel Bell-Drummond, Zak Crawley, Sean Dickson, Matt Henry, Heino Kuhn, Harry Podmore, Adam Riley, Ollie Robinson, Adam Rouse (wk), Darren Stevens, Grant Stewart, Ivan Thomas.
Weather and conditions
Gloucestershire’s One-Day Cup campaign was severely hampered by the rain so they will be relieved that four dry days are forecast for this match. The best of the weather is scheduled for Sunday and Monday so Kent will probably insert their hosts and hope the make the most of this when batting themselves.
Championship wickets at Bristol are usually on the slow side, as was the case for Gloucestershire’s only home game in this format so far this season against Glamorgan. Expect no different here, with taking 20 wickets being a real challenge.
Date: 9th-12th June
Ground: The Brightside Ground
Odds (SkyBet): Gloucestershire 5/4, Kent 8/13