Warwickshire and Gloucestershire head into Sunday’s match at Edgbaston with both having very different priorities as the 2018 season approaches boiling point.
The Bears were eliminated from the Vitality Blast after Friday’s defeat to their local rivals Worcestershire and their sole attention must now turn to securing an immediate return back to Division One of the County Championship.
Whereas for Gloucestershire, this fixture precedes their quarter-final in the Blast against Worcestershire next Saturday. A game that will surely take priority over this, with the West Country outfit languishing in seventh in Division Two.
However the visitors did win their last match in this competition against Durham at Cheltenham, a victory which did at least signal some progression after a mediocre first-half of the season.
They will have to be at their best against a Warwickshire team who have occupied top spot in Division Two for most of the year and remain favourites for promotion.
Defeat in their last game against Middlesex though does mean the likes of Kent and Sussex are hot on their heels and anything other than a win here will only allow those sides to close up further.
Although they are unbeaten at Edgbaston and with Gloucestershire having their eyes on another prize, you’d be brave to bet against the Bears in this one.
If you were going to pick a batsmen who would be the next to get an England call up purely on form right now, that man would surely be Ian Bell. The veteran’s international days are probably behind him but he is enjoying a wonderful summer after a difficult couple of years. He finished as second-highest run scorer in the group stages of the Blast with 580 runs, and is Warwickshire’s highest run-getter in the Championship. An in-form Bell is a dangerous prospect and if he can continue to churn out runs then the Bears will surely find themselves back in Division One next season.
Gloucestershire’s batting struggles have continued from previous years in 2018, with captain Chris Dent struggling more than most. The opener has been Gloucestershire’s most profitable batsmen in recent years but taking on the captaincy seems to have affected his run scoring abilities. He’ll be desperate to improve on his average of 24 in the final six games of the season. Doing so against the table-toppers at a ground where Gloucestershire have not played a four day game in ten years, would be an ideal start.
Warwickshire Squad: TBA
Gloucestershire Squad: TBA
Weather and Conditions
With the hosts in desperate need of a win to keep the chasing pack at bay they’ll be delighted that four dry days of weather are forecast for this match. However there will not be much sunshine either meaning there should be plenty of assistance for the bowlers.
The last Championship match played at Edgbaston was all the way back in May, at that stage of the season Warwickshire had already completed four home games. All four were played on excellent cricket wickets and hopefully a similar surface will prepared for this match.
.Date: 19th-22nd August
Odds (SkyBet): Warwickshire 8/15, Gloucestershire 6/4