It’s Durham vs Derbyshire, third vs fourth respectively, on Sunday and whoever wins will definitely be third and could even be second – although that would mean Warwickshire winning a game and beating Worcestershire, so third is more likely.
Durham have so far played four and won three matches, only losing to Worcestershire, who sit one place above them in the table. They have despatched Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Northants but will find Derbyshire a sterner test.
Derbyshire have only lost to top of the table Nottinghamshire and sit a point behind Durham following a dramatic tie with Yorkshire, chasing 225 in 22 overs to do so and beating Northants and Leicestershire along the way.
Durham have already faced Derbyshire once this season in the Specsavers County Championship, where Derbyshire triumphed by 125 runs, since then Cameron Bancroft has arrived and added extra depth and batting quality to the side and Durham will prove a tougher challenge this time around.
Both sides are generally unfancied in this competition and will be looking to put even more of a marker down that they are to be taken seriously, and winning this game will put them both in a great position to qualify for the knockout stages, with three games to go after this one.
The bookies have Durham as slight favourites for the match, but Derbyshire are not far behind them. I personally can’t separate the sides and think it will be an extremely tight match. Whoever wins the toss will have an advantage. It will be a great game to watch and enjoy, but after two last ball finishes for Derbyshire in the last two games, they may be hoping for something a little less tight.
There were a few eyebrows raised when Durham made Cameron Bancrofttheir captain, but he has repaid the faith shown in him in bucket fulls. So far in this competition he has scored 292 runs – only three players have scored more – and he averages 146. No one averages more and, at a strike rate of over 105, he has clearly been key in Durham’s impressive form in this competition.
Bancroft is also captaining the side and the players seem to be enjoying his captaincy – it seems a transformed place compared to the club that languished last season. Bancroft is central this and to the ongoing improvements in Durham’s fortunes, not only on Sunday, but also going forward.
What do you want from your opening batter? To score runs, score them quickly and score them consistently. In four games this competition Billy Godleman has scored 416 runs so far, averaging 138.67, and has scored three consecutive centuries – the first time any Derbyshire player has done so in List A cricket.
That covers runs and consistency, but his strike rate of 92.65 is pretty quick too. And yet the greatest asset of Godleman’s batting is that he allows the flair batters of his side – the likes of Wayne Madsen, Luis Reece, Matt Critchley and Leus Du Plooy to explode around him. If Godleman continues his fine run of form, then Derbyshire’s chances of success will be increased no end.
Durham name the same squad from last time out and I wouldn’t expect any changes to the side that has won three of the four games they have played so far. If there is one change it may see Michael Richardson come into the side, having missed the last two games for family reasons.
Durham Squad:Cameron Bancroft (c, wk), Jack Burnham, Brydon Carse, Graham Clark, Gareth Harte, Alex Lees, Matty Potts, Ben Raine, Michael Richardson, Matt Salisbury, Scott Steel, Liam Trevaskis, James Weighell
Derbyshire have named an unchanged squad for Sunday’s game. Their overseas player Logan Van Beek remains absent due to family duties, and with Mark Watt again not selected spin bowling duties will be the responsibility of Critchley and Madsen. The side from Derbyshire have looked to rotate their young bowlers, so Alfie Gleadall could well come into replace Sam Conners.
Derbyshire squad: Billy Godleman (c), Sam Conners, Matt Critchley, Anuj Dal, Alfie Gleadall, Harvey Hosein (wk), Alex Hughes, Tom Lace, Wayne Madsen, Tony Palladino, Leus du Plooy, Ravi Rampaul, Luis Reece
Weather and Conditions
The Weather looks set fair for Sunday’s clash, although you might want your big coat on, with temperatures only predicted to get as high as 12 degrees. In the two games in this competition at Durham so far, runs have been plentiful and there is no reason to see that changing. Expect whoever wins the toss to be strapping on their batting pads first, set a total and then hope to defend it.
Ground: Emirates Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street
Odds (SkyBet): Durham 8/11, Derbyshire evens