There are two ways of looking at this Specsavers County Championship clash between Warwickshire and Glamorgan.
One is that, after three weeks of 50-over matches, we are returning to real cricket.
The other is that, following the thrilling climax of Thursday evening’s Royal London contest between Warwickshire and Worcestershire, it is a case of “after the Lord Mayor’s show…”.
Unlikely though it is that this clash will match the excitement of that floodlit fight to the death, it is still a vital encounter. Warwickshire sit on top of the Division Two table with three wins from their four games. A rapid return to the top flight is a top priority.
Glamorgan, on the other hand, are next to bottom in the table with just one win so far. But a victory here could still kick-start a late, if somewhat unlikely, promotion bid.
Glamorgan will feel that this season’s points table doesn’t tell the whole story. They came agonisingly close to winning their last game against Leicestershire. Chasing 251 to win, they fell just four runs short of a win that would have shot them right up the table.
History is certainly on the side of the home team. Not since 1988 have Glamorgan won a Championship game at Edgbaston.
Warwickshire will be hoping that their mix of the old and the young in their team will continue to work for them.
The established quartet of Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Jeetan Patel and Tim Ambrose are still delivering. Newcomer Will Rhodes looks like a good acquisition from Yorkshire and the 90mph pace bowling duo of Olly Stone and Henry Brookes, backed up by Ryan Sidebottom, have collectively taken 41 wickets at less than 15 runs apiece.
Glamorgan have so far relied for runs on two young Welsh-born, batsmen, David Lloyd and Jack Murphy. But when it comes to wickets, they have had to look further afield to the trio of Timm van der Gugten, Michael Hogan and Marchant de Lange. Their collective haul of 49 wickets at under 19 runs each rivals the haul from the Warwickshire pace trio mentioned above.
The main difference may be in the back-up bowling which looks a bit thin for Glamorgan whereas Warwickshire have the ever-reliable Jeetan Patel who has 16 wickets to his name.
For Warwickshire, pace bowler Olly Stone looks increasingly like an outstanding prospect, able to bowl with real pace and to make early inroads. All he needs is to stay fit and he will undoubtedly attract the attention of the England selectors. In the meantime, he is at the forefront of the Bears’ promotion bid.
Glamorgan need a boost to a batting line-up that has produced just three batting points from four games. So the introduction of Usman Khawaja as a replacement for Shaun Marsh could be vital. If he can replicate his career first-class average well into the forties, that will serve Glamorgan well.
Warwickshire are unlikely to make too many changes from the team that played in their last four-day match against Northants almost a month ago. They might consider playing a second spinner – Josh Poysden has been taking regular wickets for the second team. But the guess is that they will resist the temptation to alter a winning team.
Warwickshire Squad: Jeetan Patel (c), Tim Ambrose, Keith Barker, Ian Bell, Henry Brookes, Sam Hain, Matthew Lamb, Josh Poysden, Will Rhodes, Dom Sibley, Olly Stone, Aaron Thomson, Jonathan Trott, Chris Wright
Glamorgan will be without Marchant de Lange and Michael Hogan is slightly doubtful after a hamstring injury so young Lukas Carey will have take a more leading role in the pace attack.
The other main change from the team that so narrowly lost to Leicestershire will, of course, be the debut appearance of Khawaja in place of Shaun Marsh.
Glamorgan squad: tbc
Form this season
Weather and Conditions
The forecast is for dry weather with sunny intervals, light breezes and temperatures in the low twenties.
Groundsman Gary Barwell normally produces a good surface and the ground seems to have recovered from the heavy storms that battered Birmingham just a week or so ago.
Date: 9th-12th June 2018
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: Stadium Edgbaston
Odds: (SkyBet): Warwickshire 2/5, Glamorgan 2/1