Derbyshire welcome Northants to the Pattonair County Ground for their first fixture of the Royal London One Day Cup hoping to make it two loses out of two for the Steelbacks, following their 72 run defeat to Durham on Wednesday.
While they come off the back of a defeat they did score 270 chasing an imposing 342, and will take positives out of scoring that many runs, if not from conceding nearly seven an over and will be looking to put that right on Friday.
Derbyshire finished fifth in the North group last season and will be looking to finish higher this year. Last season they won four and lost four; this year they will want to improve on that and qualify for the knock out stages.
Northants finished seventh having won just two games and, like their hosts, will be looking to improve on last season’s performance. In this competition momentum is everything and both sides will be looking to get some going, Derbyshire by winning their opening game and Northants by bouncing back from their opening defeat.
Derbyshire go into the game on the back of good form, albeit in the First class game, having won one and drawn one Championship game so far this season. Don’t expect to see many differences from the Championship side on the field on Friday. Tony Palladino may make way for Sam Conners, and new signing Leus Du Plooy may play. Northants will have their marquee signing Jason Holder on show and, if he is on song, he may well be worth the admission fee alone.
The bookies make Derbyshire slight favourites and with home advantage I would agree. With the variety in their bowling attack and dynamism in the batting line up, I can see Derbyshire getting their campaign off to a good start. However with Holder, Nathan Buck, Ben Sanderson and Blessing Muzarabani in their bowling line up, Northants will be more than a competitive game for the home side.
Every cub needs a player like Alex Hughes. He adds to every aspect of the game for the side. He is an excellent middle order batsman, able to accumulate runs, but also clear the ropes when required, pacing his innings according to the match situation.
While last season was a lean one for him, the previous one saw him average 57 with the bat in List A cricket and he will be hoping for a return to that form. He also bowls very good medium pace seamers, bowling a nagging line and length that frustrates the opposition batsman and forces them to play a big shot when they don’t want to. His fielding then adds a third dimension to his game, and saves as many runs in the field as he does with the bat.
The final aspect of his game is his brain. He has an excellent cricket brain and has captained the side in the past. When you add all these elements together, it is clear to see why he is a key player for Derbyshire.
In modern List A Cricket you have to be able to get off to a fast start. Where England have Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, Northants have Josh Cobb to open their innings and give them the impetus required. He can clear the ropes with ease and, when he is in full flow, no county cricket ground is big enough to contain him.
He has averaged nearly 37 in List A cricket throughout his career at a strike rate of over 92, figures which many players would be happy with. Cobb also offers a bowling option to his captain, able to keep an end tight, especially in the middle overs.
As vice captain this season, Cobb is a player his skipper can rely on for support, someone who leads by example on the field, and when Cobb fires, Northamptonshire’s chances of success increase greatly.
Derbyshire have a small squad, but have recently added to it with the Kolpak signing of Leus Du Plooy who will make his debut in this game. He is batsman who has been scoring runs for fun in South African cricket, and Derbyshire will be hoping he can transfer that form to county cricket. Apart from the inclusion of Du Plooy, do not expect the One Day squad to be too different to the squad that has started the championship. They may include an extra spin bowling option in Hammidullah Qadri or Mark Watt who has impressed for the seconds this week.
Derbyshire squad: TBA
I expect Northamptonshire’s squad to be the same as their visit to Durham earlier in the week, although expect Ben Curran to come into the side, as they look to add more dynamism to their batting line up. While Jason Holder top scored against Durham, he is probably a place too high at 6. Luke Proctor or Rob Keogh may be the man to make way, batting at 7 or 8 and not bowling their full allocation. Having Cobb in the side, who did not bowl against Durham, makes either a prime candidate to make way for Curran.
Northamptonshire Squad: TBA
Weather and Conditions
The weather looks set fair for the day, with sunshine and cloud forecast and temperatures predicted to reach a balmy 19 degrees during the late afternoon. It should be perfect playing conditions. The one game of county cricket that has taken place at Derby this year yielded over 900 runs in the four completed innings, and last season the pitches prepared for the Royal London One Day Cup produced runs and pitches with pace and true bounce. Expect the same for this game and hopefully a good contest.
Date: 19th April 2019
Ground: Pattonair County Ground, Derby
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire 4/5, Northamptonshire 10/11