Gloucestershire must quickly get over the disappointment of their defeat to Worcestershire in the quarterfinals of the Vitality Blast when they welcome fourth-placed Leicestershire to Bristol in the Championship on Wednesday.
A total of 136-8 was always going to be a difficult one to defend and, despite an excellent effort in the field, a masterful 64 from Callum Ferguson steered Worcestershire to Finals Day.
The loss ended any hopes of silverware for Richard Dawson’s men in 2018, but with five fixtures remaining in their Division Two campaign they will want to improve on their current position of eighth in the table.
A spot they occupy due to the fact they have only won two games of red-ball cricket this season. A harrowing hammering at the hands of table-toppers Warwickshire in their last game was a huge disappointment after the improvements made at the Cheltenham Festival.
The visit by Leicestershire to Bristol presents the perfect opportunity to get back to the high standards set at the College Ground, a side that the West Country outfit completed the double over in 2017.
However, the Foxes are a different prospect this season and themselves remain in outside contention to be promoted to Division One. Defeat to Kent last time out though severely damaging their hopes.
Thirty points is now the gap to second-place and with the way Kent, Sussex and Warwickshire are all playing the visitors here may well need almost a perfect record from here on in.
The Foxes’ dangerous bowling attack should trouble what has been a brittle Gloucestershire batting line-up on occasions this season, and this fixture may provide a team, so wonderfully coached by Paul Nixon, the perfect opportunity to re-establish their promotion push.
Gloucestershire have made a habit of giving young players a chance this season, the latest being Ben Charlesworth. The 17-year-old was handed his debut against Warwickshire, but it was always going to be difficult against the Division Two leaders. Like most of his senior colleagues he was dismissed cheaply in both innings. However, that performance should be no reflection on a man who has represented England at Under-19 level. His first appearance at home provides the perfect opportunity for the batsman to show the Gloucestershire fans just what he is capable of.
Mohammad Abbas has proved to be one of the better county overseas signings in 2018. The Pakistani bowler impressed during his country’s test series against England, and he has continued that excellent form for Leicestershire. He currently has thirty wickets to his name in the Championship, at an average of nineteen, and will surely enjoy further success before the season is out. Gloucestershire’s batsmen have not exactly fired recently, something that Abbas will be looking to exploit.
Gloucestershire remain without all-rounders Graeme van Buuren and Kieran Noema-Barnett, both of whom suffered injuries during the clubs T20 campaign. David Payne, who missed last week’s trip to Edgbaston, returns to the squad in place of Jake Lintott.
Gloucestershire Squad: Chris Dent (c), James Bracey, Ben Charlesworth, George Drissell, Miles Hammond, Ryan Higgins, Benny Howell, Chris Liddle, Craig Miles, David Payne, Gareth Roderick (wk), Matt Taylor.
Both Neil Dexter and Zak Chappell are available for the Foxes’ trip to Bristol, Chappell recovering sufficiently from a concussion he suffered against Kent. Dieter Klein replaced him in that game, and retains his place in the Leicestershire squad.
Leicestershire Squad: Paul Horton (c), Mohammad Abbas, Colin Ackermann, Zak Chappell, Mark Cosgrove, Harry Dearden, Neil Dexter, Ned Eckersley (wk), Gavin Griffiths, Ateeq Javid, Dieter Klein, Ben Raine, Callum Parkinson.
Weather and conditions
There should be no problems with the weather throughout this match with four dry days forecast, meaning there is a great opportunity for a result, an outcome both sides crave.
Whether the Bristol wicket obliges is a different story. Quite often a slow one that can lead less than entertaining cricket, taking twenty wickets may well be a challenge.
Date: 29th August-1stSeptember
Ground:The Brightside Ground
Odds (SkyBet): Gloucestershire 1/1, Leicestershire 4/5