Northants and Glamorgan both go chasing their first win in the Bob Willis Trophy when they meet at Wantage Road this week.
After fighting so hard to come away from their opening match against Warwickshire with a draw, Northants have suffered two disappointing home defeats.
They were blown away by an Overton-inspired Somerset to lose inside two days before crumbling in just 40.4 overs on the final day of their most recent match against Worcestershire to lose by 78 runs.
Glamorgan supporters could be forgiven for fearing after the worst after they succumbed to a 289-run to Somerset in their first match but have since shown resistance to earn two draws.
Firstly, at New Road against Worcestershire where Billy Root made 118 and Kieran Carlson 79 as Glamorgan took maximum batting bonus points for the first time since June 2019.
Last time out against Gloucestershire, they got some help from the weather with rain interrupting the first cricket at Sophia Gardens of the season including washing out the entire first day. They still needed an unbroken ninth wicket stand of 59 in 24 overs between Chris Cooke and Timm van Der Gugten to earn them a draw.
With only one Bob Willis Trophy match to play after this any hope these two had of making the Lord’s final has disappeared so it will be interesting to see the sides’ approach when it comes to team selection.
The T20 Blast kicks off on Thursday and both counties have put a lot of emphasis on that competition in recent years with Northants winning it twice in 2013 & 2016 while Glamorgan reached Finals Day in 2017 having topped the South Group. There is likely to be some rotation of the squad ahead of a frantic period of white ball cricket.
Glamorgan have happy memories of their last visit to Northampton. They racked up a first innings total of 547 which set up victory by an innings and 143 runs last June. That result actually took them top of the Division Two table but they would win one more match (against Leicestershire in September) to finish 4th.
The match proved to be the last as captain for Alex Wakely who was replaced by Adam Rossington who masterminded a remarkable turn around to earn Northants promotion.
There has been plenty in the Northampton wickets for the seamers this season. 21 wickets fell on the first day of the match against Somerset alone and Worcestershire’s second innings effort of 255-6 declared is the highest score in 8 innings. One player who always produces at this venue is Ben Sanderson. Having had a stellar 2019, Sanderson’s eye catching 9 wicket haul against Somerset has seen some calls for him to be considered for international honours. That ship might have sailed but having sat out the defeat to Worcestershire, he will be back and ready to cause the Glamorgan batsman problems.
Glamorgan’s win at Wantage Road last June was centred around a quite magnificent 229 from Billy Root.
It was his highest score of a 2019 season that yielded 768 runs at an average of 36.57. Only Marnus Labuschagne made more for Glamorgan and with the Australian not able to represent the Welsh county this summer, responsibility for runs has fallen on Root’s shoulders. He has so far delivered with 118 against Worcestershire and an equally important 34 on the final day which helped earn Glamorgan a draw.
Northants have named Simon Kerrigan in their squad. The one-Test England spinner lost his way at Lancashire, spending a season on loan at Northants before being released by the Red Rose in 2017. The left-arm spinner has not played first-class or List A cricket since, signing up to play minor counties cricket for Shropshire this season, but has been given a chance by Northants.
They have rotated their bowlers around in the Bob Willis Trophy. Blessing Muzarabani has played all three matches so far and could well sit this one out.
Northamptonshire Squad – Ricardo Vasconcelos, Nathan Buck, Ben Curran, Emilio Gay, Brett Hutton, Rob Keogh, Simon Kerrigan, Blessing Muzarabani, Luke Procter, Tom Sole, Charlie Thurston, Jack White, Saif Zaib.
Glamorgan have made two changes to the squad which secured a hard-fought draw against Gloucestershire earlier this week with Michael Hogan returning and all-rounder Joe Cooke included.
Glamorgan squad – Chris Cooke, Kieran Bull, Kiran Carlson, Joe Cooke, Tom Cullen, Marchant de Lange, Dan Douthwaite, Michael Hogan, Billy Root, Nick Selman, Callum Taylor, Timm Van Der Gugten, Graham Wagg.
Weather and conditions
Northampton managed to miss much of the rain that disrupted the last round of matches in the Bob Willis Trophy. High winds are the theme of the forecast for the four days of this one and that could blow in some showers later in the match. The opening day looks like it will be the best day weather wise.
Date: 22nd-25th August
Venue: County Ground, Northampton
Odds: Northants: 10-11; Glamorgan: 11-10 (SkyBet)