Having been at the top of Division Two, two weeks ago, Glamorgan have slipped to fourth place, while Leicestershire have dropped below Sussex at the bottom of the table. Interestingly, Glamorgan and Leicestershire have played the same two teams in the last two rounds of the County Championship. Both have suffered heavy defeats to Middlesex, but Glamorgan played out an exciting draw against Derbyshire in the last round, while Leicestershire suffered an innings defeat to the same side the previous week. Leicestershire have seen some promising individual performances, but have struggled to put together a strong team performance. Their relative lack of squad resources is likely to see them scrapping for draws rather than wins as the season progresses.
Glamorgan have had fluctuating fortunes, with a relatively straightforward win against division favourites, Nottingham, followed by an innings defeat to Middlesex. Their game against Derbyshire last week was the highlight of the round, all results possible down to the last over. They will be pleased to see Marnus Labuschagne hitting form, with 215 runs in the game, but will be concerned about the hamstring strain suffered by Timm van der Gugten. As with Leicestershire, they have issues with the depth in their squad, relying heavily on their four main seamers, lacking a reliable red ball spinner and not having a specialist opening batter available. There were some more positive signs against Derbyshire, with a century opening stand in the first innings, before an unfortunate run out.
In Championship matches played at Sophia Garden between the two teams, Leicestershire are ahead on wins nine to six, but they have only won twice there in the last 21 years, the last being in 2016. Glamorgan will start as strong favourites and need the win if they want to keep in touch with Nottinghamshire and Middlesex for one of the promotion places.
Having come to the attention of Glamorgan while playing for Cardiff MCCU, Australian-born Tom Cullen has been on the staff since 2017, as a backup keeper to Chris Cooke. He has developed a reputation as a gritty middle order batter and will be keen to take full advantage of the opportunity he has been given, particularly now that young England under-19 wicket keeper, Alex Horton, will be pushing for selection.
Ben Mike missed the second and third round games, but the 23-year-old Leicestershire all rounder made an impact on his return to the side against Middlesex, albeit in a losing cause. For an unknown reason, he was the seventh bowler called upon in the Middlesex first innings, having to wait until the 98th over, when the score had reached 330/5. He then proceeded to take 4/15! When Leicestershire came to bat second time around, they showed more resilience than in their first innings and Mike was the main contributor, finishing on 99 not out. With Middlesex just needing 52 to win, he did not bowl in their second innings, but assuming he is not carrying an injury, we expect he will be brought on a little earlier this week.
Eddie Byrom remains sidelined, but van der Gugten is included in the squad, while awaiting a fitness check. Weighell will likely play if van der Gugten is not ready. The other option might have been left arm seamer, Jamie McIlroy, who had a promising performance, in his first outing of the season, with the second XI last week. He would provide some badly needed variety to the Glamorgan attack. Andy Gorvin and Billy Root have come in to the squad, Gorvin following a strong performance in the 2s last week, with bat and ball.
Glamorgan squad: David Lloyd (c), Kiran Carlson, Chris Cooke (wk), Tom Cullen, Andy Gorvin, James Harris, Michael Hogan, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Sam Northeast, Billy Root, Andrew Salter, Timm van der Gugten, James Weighell
Leicestershire have been rotating their seam bowlers and may continue with this policy. Lewis Hill is out with a fractured thumb. Leicestershire 2nd XI have been in action this week against Nottinghamshire and Rishi Patel, in his first game back after injury, has put his hand up for selection, with a century against an attack led by Jake Ball, in his first outing following a back injury last year.
Leicestershire squad: TBC
Weather and Conditions
Temperatures are on the rise, set to reach 20°C at the weekend. The forecast is for cloud and maybe the odd shower.
Once batters get through the new ball they should be able to make bowlers toil for rewards on what is likely to be a slow pitch.
Date: 5th – 8th May 2022
Ground: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Odds (SkyBet): Glamorgan 4/9; Leicestershire 13/8