LV County Championship Somerset CCC vs Gloucestershire CCC Match Preview

LV County Championship Somerset CCC vs Gloucestershire CCC Match Preview

When on Monday red ball county cricket at last resumes after a barren August, local rivals Somerset and Gloucestershire will engage in a battle that has far more at stake than West Country bragging rights.  Both counties are involved in a relegation battle that is likely to end in tears for at least one of them.

Gloucestershire sit at the bottom of the table with no wins and eight losses from their 11 games, with Somerset just one place above them, having won two and lost five of their ten games. Both teams urgently need to make up ground on Warwickshire, Kent and Yorkshire, the counties sitting above them in the table.  The likelihood that the Strauss review will recommend a smaller top division makes this an especially bad time to be relegated.

Although Somerset are fortunate to have a largely injury-free squad, there will be some important missing faces in their line-up. One of these is James Hildreth whose retirement, initially due at the end of the season, has now been brought forward.  Also missing will be overseas players Matt Renshaw and Peter Siddle who contributed, respectively, over 600 runs and 27 wickets to the Somerset cause.  In fact, worryingly for Somerset, almost exactly half of all the wickets taken by them in the Championship this year have fallen to three bowlers (Siddle, Jack Leach and Craig Overton) who will be absent this week.

Gloucestershire have used 25 players so far in the Championship, with Miles Hammond, James Bracey and Ryan Higgins as the only ever-presents. Hammond has just signed a contract extension whereas Ryan Higgins has gone back to Middlesex, initially on loan. A trio of losses is completed by the departure of Benny Howell to Hampshire, which will only be partly offset by the arrival of Marchant de Lange from Somerset.

Key Players

For Gloucestershire, the contract extension granted to Miles Hammond is well deserved.  He has scored over 700 runs with one century and five half centuries. A big innings against Somerset would confirm that he is a key member of the four day batting line-up.

Not having played for over a month, Somerset captain Tom Abell should be raring to go. He averages over 50 with the bat this season as well as contributing as a much respected captain and occasional fast-medium bowler.

Team News

Somerset have signed Pakistani stars Sajid Khan and Imam ul-Haq. In addition, they can welcome back their star players from the Hundred, including Lewis Gregory, Tom Banton and Roelof van der Merwe.Last year, they returned from the short form extravaganza and significantly under-performed.  Somerset will be looking for better from them this year.

Somerset squad: Tom Abell (c), Kasey Aldridge, Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Jack Brooks, Josh Davey, Lewis Goldsworthy, Lewis Gregory, Imam-ul-Haq, Tom Lammonby, James Rew, Sajid Khan and Roelof van der Merwe.

Gloucestershire will be delighted to see the return of captain Graeme van Buuren from injury.  They will, however, be without Chris Dent and Zafar Gohar, both injured. Gohar, as leading wicket taker, will be especially missed.

Gloucestershire squad: James Bracey (wk), Ben Charlesworth, Marcus Harris, Miles Hammond, Tom Lace, David Payne, Ollie Price, Tom Price, Josh Shaw, Ajeet Singh-Dale, Jack Taylor, Graeme van Buuren (c), Paul van Meekeren

Weather and Conditions

Supporters of four day cricket who have waited patiently for its resumption will have to console themselves with the thought that rain is much needed because the forecast is for plenty of it over the next four days.  There will be some dry spells too though whether there will be enough of them to enable a result is difficult to predict.  The signing of Sajid Khan suggests that the Taunton pitch may revert to being spin-friendly, especially since their opponents will be without fellow Pakistan spinner Zafar Gohar.

Date: Monday 5 September to Thursday 8 September 2022

Time: 10.30 am

Ground: The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton


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