Durham travel to Cardiff in the opening round of the LV County Championship. Having both qualified for Division Two last season, Durham enjoyed a comprehensive win over Glamorgan at Chester-Le Street in September. A few weeks earlier Glamorgan had taken the honours in the Royal London Cup final. This time around Durham should start as favourites, with a strong batting line up despite the absence of Keegan Petersen who is on Test duty with South Africa. They will be pleased to have Alex Lees available, and he will likely be joined at the top of the order by Scotland international Michael Jones. The middle order is led by David Bedingham, who scored over 1000 Championships runs in 2021, alongside captain, Scott Borthwick.
Glamorgan’s top order remains a make-do affair. New captain David Lloyd will be accompanied by Andrew Salter at the top of the order in the absence of Eddie Byrom, who is recovering from surgery. Salter has scored runs in the preseason games batting in the top three. There is also a large hole at three, in the absence of Marnus Labuschagne, which looks like being filled by Colin Ingram. Ingram is now a T20 specialist but did play one championship game in 2021, scoring 34 runs in two innings. Glamorgan will be looking to new-signing Sam Northeast for middle order runs, with Carlson at five.
The game will likely hinge on how the Glamorgan batting fares against the Durham seam attack, led by the evergreen Chris Rushworth. He should be backed up by promising youngster Matty Potts, Ben Raine and Paul Coughlin, who took nine wickets in this fixture last season. Glamorgan will be hoping that returning overseas signing Michael Neser will be fit to lead their attack alongside 40-year-old Michael Hogan, prodigal son James Harris and Dutch international Timm van der Gugten.
Overall, Durham appears to be stronger in both batting and bowling departments but as in the Royal London final, a surprise is not out of the question.
Glamorgan – Sam Northeast – With plenty of runs in the pre-season Glamorgan will be hoping that Northeast hits the ground running. A player with undoubted talent in all formats, he will be hoping the move to Wales and input from coach, Matthew Maynard will force his name back into the England selectors’ thoughts.
Durham – Matty Potts – The young quick bowler, a product of the Durham Academy, is building a reputation in all formats having gained a contract with the Northern Superchargers in 2021. He took 23 wickets at 27 in last season’s Championship and will be hoping to move his career forward.
Glamorgan squad: David Lloyd (c), Kiran Carlson, Chris Cooke (wk), Tom Cullen, Dan Douthwaite, James Harris, Michael Hogan, Colin Ingram, Michael Neser, Sam Northeast, Andrew Salter, Callum Taylor, Timm van der Gugten, James Weighell
Durham squad: Scott Borthwick (c), David Bedingham, Graham Clark, Paul Coughlin, Sean Dickson, Ned Eckersley (wk), Oliver Gibson, Michael Jones, Alex Lees, Liam Trevaskis, Matthew Potts, Ben Raine, Chris Rushworth
Weather and Conditions
Temperatures will remain cool with some showers forecast. It should remain dry enough for a positive result to be possible and I am sure the players will be glad to be in South Wales rather than at Chester-le-Street where temperatures will be a few degrees cooler.
Pitches at this time of year at Sophia Gardens have tended to be rather green in appearance but have provided good batting surfaces.
Date: 7th-10th April 2022
Ground: Sophia Gardens
Odds (SkyBet): Glamorgan 10/11, Durham 4/5