Derbyshire will be hoping to continue their unbeaten start to the Division Two campaign when they host Worcestershire at The Incora County Ground.
The away side will be hoping they can build upon the impressive resilience they showed to earn a draw away at Durham, which included batting out 122 overs over the last two days for the loss of just three wickets. Both teams currently sit in mid-table, with only one win apiece this season after four games. They will be hoping to start turning draws into victories, to demonstrate their promotional credentials to their fellow contenders. Worcestershire and Derbyshire have both proven tough nuts to crack so far; if either can find a breakthrough, it will cement their position as a force to be reckoned with in Division Two.
It is fair to say that Derbyshire have not struggled in the batting department so far this season. In their six innings to date, they are yet to be bowled out for below 300. However, their returns have not proved so fruitful in the bowling side of their game. They have only managed to take all 20 wickets in a match once, against Leicestershire, who sit bottom of the table. They did manage to roll over Sussex for just 174 in impressive fashion given their 500+ first innings score, but were unable to capitalise. During the follow-on, Sussex were able to post a 500+ score of their own, for the loss of just 3 wickets. Although maintaining an unbeaten record after four matches is impressive, three draws mean it is imperative that this Derbyshire side start performing with the ball to post more victories.
Despite recording just the one win, there have been a lot of positives to take from the season up to this point for Worcestershire fans. The side were just one wicket away from an opening round victory against Leicestershire, which was followed up by a comprehensive innings win at home to Sussex. However, defeat to Nottinghamshire, which included being skittled for 159, demonstrates that there are still areas for improvement. The Durham match once again highlighted the up and down nature of the campaign; it is fair to say the bowlers were put to the sword, especially by Ben Stokes’ magical innings of 17 sixes, taking just 7 wickets over the match. However, a noteworthy rearguard effort, including a maiden first-class century for Jack Haynes, recovered a draw for the Pears. Room for improvement is a fair assessment of their season so far.
Making twin centuries in the previous match often means you are in with a shoe-in to be key player for the next match. This is no different for Brooke Guest, who, after a string of low scores in the first three matches, finally found his form against Glamorgan. Scoring a century in both innings is no mean feat, and represents a growth in confidence for the wicket-keeper. In just four days, his number of first-class centuries tripled. Derbyshire will be hoping that Guest remains in the runs, to relieve some of the pressure on overseas opening batter Shan Masood.
In a season of inconsistency, it is imperative that the captain stands up, and leads by example. Brett D’Oliveira has done just that this season. Born in Worcester, and the third generation of his family to play for the Pears, the batting all-rounder is the perfect candidate to take on the role, and he has excelled under the pressure. His celebration at the non-striker’s end when Haynes hit his century shows his undeniable passion. He is the team’s leading run-scorer, and has finished not out four times, exemplifying stability at a time when it is in short supply at New Road. If Worcestershire are to record their second win of the season, D’Oliveira will most likely be at the centre of proceedings.
Derbyshire squad: Billy Godleman (c), Shan Masood, Luis Reece, Leus du Plooy, Wayne Madsen, Brooke Guest, Alex Thomson, Anuj Dal, Alex Hughes, Suranga Lakmal, Sam Conners, Nick Potts, Ryan Sidebottom
Worcestershire pace pair Charlie Morris and Dillon Pennington are back in the squad..Morris missed the draw against Durham because of a stomach bug. Pennington was also unavailable for that game with a hamstring injury.
Worcestershire squad: Brett D’Oliveira (c), Jake Libby, Ed Pollock, Azhar Ali, Jack Haynes, Ed Barnard
Ben Cox (wk), Joe Leach, Josh Baker, Adam Finch, Ben Gibbon, Charlie Morris, Dillon Pennington
Weather and Conditions
Although the sun might be shining before play starts on Thursday, the first two days of play look set to take place under overcast conditions, as the cloud cover will be set in place before the toss. However, the sun will make a return, just in time for the weekend, with temperatures reaching 21 degrees for Sunday. Don’t forget the Factor 50! A variety of weather conditions, and a lack of rain, looks set to create a fair contest in Derby.
Date: Thursday 12th May to Sunday 15th May
Ground: The Incora County Ground, Derby
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire 4/5; Worcestershire 10/11