Both sides started the season with a draw away from home, Derbyshire returning from Birmingham with 11 points while Worcestershire continued on their travels with the 12 points they collected at Chelmsford. Both sides fought back in their games to achieve those draws, and the fight that both sides showed will stand them in good stead as the season goes on.
Both will be looking for more of that fight in this game, too, as they look to move up the Group One table.
For Worcestershire, a great deal of that fight was shown by Jake Libby who carried his bat for a belligerent 180 Not Out, batting for 681 minutes and 496 balls – the second longest County Championship innings in the history of the tournament. His performance guided his side to relative parity against an attack that has bowled out sides for fun in recent years.
Libby was assisted ably by Ed Barnard, who scored his maiden First Class century with 128 runs, Dillon Pennington, making his maiden First Class half century and, Riki Wessels who also scored a half century. Those four aside, there were very few major contributions, especially from the top order. Worcestershire will be looking to rectify this during their visit to Derby this week.
Like Worcestershire, Derbyshire’s top order also struggled to make contributions that counted. Luis Reece made 63 in the first innings, but the other nine innings only accounted for 62 runs. Like Worcestershire, they will be looking to rectify that in the second round of matches. They will be looking for improved top order contributions, coupled with runs from lower down the order. If they can do this, then they are capable of posting competitive and match winning totals.
The last time these two sides met in First Class cricket, Derbyshire prevailed by 82 runs and they will be drawing on that when they face the men from New Road this week. With the weather set fair for the duration of the match, a victory for either side should be possible.
The bookies have Worcestershire as favourites and, on paper, their side is stronger and has a better reputation. However, games aren’t played on paper or on reputation and Derbyshire have made a recent history of upsetting the odds. Don’t be surprised if the bookies lose some money on this one.
In Fynn Hudson-Prentice Derbyshire have a genuine allrounder. He bowls at genuine pace and with proper wicket taking threat, and is also capable of batting at pretty much anywhere in the batting order. He has batted as high as three, where he scored his highest first class score of 99 back in 2019. Most recently has been batting at 7 or 8, which is where he scored a brilliant unbeaten 91 to guide his side to victory against Nottinghamshire last season. Hudson-Prentice offers his side great balance and the ability to contribute with bat and ball, and when he contributes the side invariably does much better.
Just like Derbyshire, Worcestershire have a player who is a proven genuine all rounder in their ranks, a bowler who takes wickets a plenty and who can score useful runs down the order. That man is Ed Barnard. He made an excellent start to the season last week against Essex, taking 3 wickets for 67 runs and a maiden century as he amassed 128 runs to help guide his side to parity. He is getting better and better, and is making more and more contributions to his side and as he does so.
Derbyhire’s overseas player Billy Stanlake is yet to arrive in the country. Seamers Sam Conners, Michael Cohen, Ben Aitchison, and Nick Potts, are named in the squad, as are Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Anuj Dal.
Squad: Billy Godleman, Luis Reece, Anuj Dal, Leus du Plooy, Wayne Madsen, Matt Critchley, Harvey Hosein, Brooke Guest, Fynn Hudson-Prentice, Michael Cohen, Ben Aitchison, Sam Conners, Nick Potts
Moeen Ali is still away in India playing in the IPL, but the Pears’ ranks have been bolstered with the arrival of Alzarri Joseph as overseas player. He has been named in the squad that otherwise remains unchanged from Worcestershire’s visit to Essex last week.
Squad: Daryl Mitchell, Jake Libby, Tom Fell, Gareth Roderick, Brett D’Oliveira, Riki Wessels, Ben Cox, Ed Barnard, Joe Leach, Dillon Pennington, Charlie Morris, Alzarri Joseph
Derbyshire CCC: D
Worcestershire CCC: D
Weather and Conditions
This game will be played behind closed doors in line with the Government’s Covid 19 Road map, but a live stream will be available with commentary from BBC Radio Derbyshire direct from the club’s website.
The weather looks set fair for the duration of the four days with little chance of rain throughout and hopefully even less chance of snow, unlike during last week’s round of fixtures. This will be the first Championship game at the Incora County Ground this season, so we have no precedent for the pitch. Generally at Derby, though, the pitches offer something for the bowlers, especially early on, and the best time for batting is on day two.
Dates: 15th to 18th April
Ground: Incora County Ground, Derby, Derbyshire
Match Odds (Sky Bet): Derbyshire CCC 6/5, Worcestershire CCC 8/13