Billy Dobson previews a fascinating clash between Worcestershire and Sussex
New Road is set to host its first LV County Championship match of the season as Worcestershire play host to Sussex.
In their previous visit, a young Sussex side fell to a six-wicket defeat, one of many sides in 2021 to fall at the hands of Jake Libby. Worcestershire’s opener produced an unbeaten 125 in the fourth innings of the match, guiding the hosts to a thrilling victory. The visitors will be hoping for a better result this week, looking to drag themselves off the bottom of the Division Two table.
Sussex’s heavy opening match defeat at Nottinghamshire was followed up by a high-scoring draw at home to fellow strugglers Derbyshire. A first innings collapse from Sussex saw them following-on and staring at a second straight defeat, before both captain Tom Haines and debutant Cheteshwar Pujara produced spectacular double-hundreds to see the game out. Sussex’s attack will be hoping to see their side bat first at New Road, earning an extra day of rest after bowling 133 overs in Derbyshire’s only innings.
Worcestershire head into the game off the back of a rest week, recovering from their nail-biting draw at Leicestershire. A disappointing start to the match was salvaged by new captain Brett D’Oliveira, who scored 118 not-out to keep his side in the game. Joe Leach and Ed Barnard chipped in with half-centuries, before a second innings century from Ed Pollock put the victory beyond Leicestershire’s reach. Despite their best efforts, Worcestershire couldn’t find the important final wicket, the hosts drawing the match with one wicket in hand.
A dedicated spin bowler has been missing at New Road for a number of years, with Brett D’Oliveira taking up the role of an all-rounder. The emergence of Josh Baker could be a crucial weapon in Worcestershire’s armoury. Baker’s left-arm orthodox has been a real find for his side, claiming 4-51 in the second innings at Leicestershire. In his six first-class matches, the youngster has taken 17 wickets at an average of 28.9. Although not ground-breaking, it certainly gives Worcestershire another string to their bow.
A man tipped for future international success, Sussex captain Tom Haines has had an impressive start to the 2022 campaign. A well-fought half-century at Trent Bridge was followed up with his personal best 243 against Derbyshire. The mammoth innings saw the 23-year-old face 491 deliveries before being caught behind. The young captain has been in the running for a spot in England’s Test side, and another stellar performance in the County Championship will only bolster his chances.
There are no injury concerns for the hosts heading into Thursday’s game. With no game last week, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see an unchanged bowling attack deployed at New Road. Jacques Banton and Gareth Roderick both posted half-centuries for the Second XI last week, providing welcome competition for the first team.
Worcestershire squad: Brett D’Oliveira (c), Jake Libby, Ed Pollock, Azhar Ali, Jack Haynes, Ed Barnard, Ben Cox (wk), Joe Leach, Josh Baker, Dillon Pennington, Charlie Morris, Adam Finch. Gareth Roderick, Ben Gibbon
After two weeks of cricket, Sussex may look to vary their attack this week. Steven Finn, Henry Crocombe and Jamie Atkins have all played both games of the season, each bowling over 50 overs in the process. Finn is being rested after suffering inflammation of the knee. Archie Lenham is in the squad.
Sussex squad: Tom Haines (c), Tom Alsop, Jamie Atkins, George Burrows,Oli Carter, Tom Clark, Henry Crocombe, Archie Lenham, Ali Or, Cheteshwar Pujara, Delray Rawlins, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Grant Stewart |
Weather and Conditions
New Road looks set to see temperatures of 17 degrees over the course of the match, albeit with overcast conditions, ideal for the seam bowlers. A 50% chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday may see the sides looking to bat first in order to make the best of the batting conditions.
Date: 21st – 24th April 2022
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: New Road, Worcestershire
Odds (SkyBet): Worcestershire 5/6; Sussex 5/6