It’s top against bottom in the North group as struggling Durham welcome high-flying Derbyshire to the Emirates Riverside, both sides with very different agendas.
Durham will be looking to claim a first victory of the season and to improve on a campaign which has seen them collect just 16 points from three games, with 11 of those coming in the rain affected draw versus Leicestershire last time out. A good win will see move them closer to Nottinghamshire who are one place above them in the group, 13 points ahead.
Derbyshire on the other hand will be looking for a good win to help keep them top of the group and keep the Tykes of Yorkshire, who are snapping at their heels just two points behind them, at bay.
With two games to go Derbyshire will be eyeing a spot in the final at Lord’s, but with only two of the group leaders making the final every point is vital. Essex look set to be one of those finalists and it could come down to a shoot out between the Northern Group and Central Group winners, both of whom currently sit on 57 points.
In the three games so far Durham have yet to pass 300 with the bat and only passed 250 once. Runs have been at a premium for them, with their skipper Alex Lees showing the way, opening the batting and so far amassing 244 runs at an average of 48.80. Wickets have been easier to come by and in Chris Rushworth they have one of the country’s most consistent county bowlers, who earlier in the campaign claimed his 500th first class wicket.
Derbyshire have found life easier going, passing 300 on three occasions in registering two victories and a rain-affected draw. Their runs have been shared around, but Leus du Plooy has been most consistent averaging 55.50 from his four innings so far. The wickets have been shared across the battery of seamers Derbyshire currently employ. Sam Connors, a product of the Derbyshire academy system is one to watch though, he bowls with genuine pace and also gets late swing.
When you sign someone from overseas you want them to make an impact and in David Bedingham, Durham have a man who has done just that. Signed from South Africa and the Cape Cobras on an ancestral visa, he is a middle order batsman of much repute in his home country and from the impression he has made in the first three games it is easy to see why. He has scored 216 runs so far in five innings including a 96 and 77.
All-rounders add balance to your side and allow you to play an extra bowler or batter as you see fit, if they can do something a little different too it makes them even better. In Matt Critchley Derbyshire have just that. This year he has been batting at five, one place higher than last season, and he has been flourishing, scoring important runs in the middle order and while he hasn’t gone on to score a century, his runs have steadied the ship and he has developed effective partnerships when required. He also bowls very good leg spin, and took his best first-class bowling figures in the victory over Leicestershire with 6-73.
Durham have selected the same squad for the last two games but have named 22-year-old Scotland international Michael Jones in their ranks for the first time this season. Jack Burnham misses out through injury and Cameron Steel drops out.
Durham Squad: Alex Lees, Sean Dickson, Michael Jones, David Bedingham, Gareth Harte, Stuart Poynter, Ned Eckersley (c,wk), Brydon Carse, Paul Coughlin, Ben Raine, Matthew Potts, Matthew Salisbury, Chris Rushworth
Luis Reece returns from a knock, while Fynn Hudson-Prentice comes back in after missing the Leicestershire match. Ravi Rampaul who remains in the Caribean due to Covid-19. Brooke Guest is also still awaiting his debut since signing from Lancashire and will hope to feature against Durham.
Billy Godleman, Luis Reece, Wayne Madsen, Leus du Plooy, Brooke Guest, Alex Hughes, Matt Critchley, Anuj Dal, Ben Aitchison, Michael Cohen, Fynn Hudson-Prentice, Ed Barnes, Sam Conners
Weather and Conditions
The weather looks again as if it could play a part in the result of this week’s game. There is the chance of a shower over the first two days and then a good chance on day three and then day four may be more suitable to the feathered variety of ducks than the cricketing type. The wickets at Durham look to be good cricket wickets, which tend to produce a result.
Dates : August 22-25, 2020
Time : 11am
Ground : Emirates Riverside, Chester-le-Street, Durham
Match Odds (Sky Bet): Durham 6/5 Derbyshire 4/6