Having drawn each of their first five matches of the County Championship season, Worcestershire will be looking to make it sixth time lucky as they travel to the north-east this week. Hosts Durham will be eager to build on momentum after a convincing win over Warwickshire last time out.
Durham did not play in the last round of fixtures however, meaning their victory came two weeks ago. The win was so resounding they will still be on a high entering this match. Having bowled Warwickshire out for just 87 in the first innings Durham openers Alex Lees and WIll Young both bagged centuries as the north-east outfit completed an innings victory inside three days.
Worcestershire have found taking wickets extremely hard this season, in all five games so far they have failed to take all twenty opposition scalps, often conceding scores well over 350. The Pears will be hoping Chester-le-Street provides more favourable bowling conditions for the seamers to take advantage of. The talent in the bowling attack is obvious, without the results to show for it for now.
Durham’s bowling attack on the other hand has looked dangerous all season. Led by veteran Chris Rushworth, they have a squad of excellent quicks including England paceman Mark Wood who looked as sharp as ever against Warwickshire taking four wickets. The only problem facing Durham is the inconsistency with the bat, there have been individual high scores, especially David Bedingham, however setting an overall commanding first innings total has proved challenging.
Worcestershire can be very pleased with their batting so far, always matching their opponents sizable scores and going beyond. The team who can marry form with bat and ball most effectively will go a long way to winning this tie.
Mark Wood can often be the game changer for England in the test arena. So there is no reason to think he won’t have a huge impact in this game as well. His pace and aggressive nature means he can take the pitch conditions out of the equation and break partnerships. With Worcestershire having plenty of in form batsmen, Wood may be required to produce some quick spells of hostile bowling, which he can produce very effectively
If Worcestershire are going to get their first win of the season this week, they need to take more wickets. This means looking to their all-rounder Ed Barnard. So far Barnard averages 33 with the ball in his first five games. Durham is usually a place where fast bowlers who hit the pitch hard and have consistent accuracy can have a lot of success. If Barnard can find a rhythm with early wickets, he could be the difference between a sixth Worcestershire draw and a first Worcestershire win.
Durham have added Matt Salisbury to an otherwise unchanged squad for this game.
Durham Squad: Scott Borthwick(c), David Bedingham, Jack Burnham, Brydon Carse, Paul Coughlin, Ned Eckersley, Ben Raine, Chris Rushworth, Matt Salisbury, Liam Trevaskis, Alex Lees, Stuart Poynter(wk), Mark Wood, Will Young
Alzarri Joseph is rested as part of a fast bowling rotation policy.
Worcestershire Squad: Joe Leach(c), Ed Barnard, Ben Cox,(wk) Brett D’Oliveira, Tom Fell, Adam Finch, Jack Haynes, Jake Libby, Daryl Mitchell, Charlie Morris, Dillon Pennington, Gareth Roderick, Josh Tongue.
Weather and Conditions:
Days one and two are set fair with potential showers days three and four. PLenty of chance for both teams to claim victory.
Date: 13th – 16th May
Time: 11:00 am
Venue: Emirates Durham ICG (Chester-le-Street)
Odds Sky Bet: Durham 4/6 Worcestershire 11/10