It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the domestic cricket season is back and for Derbyshire and Worcestershire the first port of call is the Incora County Ground in Derby (hopefully). There have been seven days of cricket scheduled at the Incora County Ground this pre season, all of which have either been moved or cancelled due to the saturated outfield. There has been a lot of rain and snow in Derby this spring and the ground has paid the price. The last week or so has been drier, but the groundstaff have been working around the clock, and if we have all the allotted play this week, they will all deserve a beverage of their choice, to put their feet up and possibly a bonus!
Both sides will come into this match with renewed hope and vigour. Both should be sporting new arrivals, Lamb and Chappell for Derbyshire, Waite and Hose for Worcestershire. Both sides will be hoping that these players can make an impact and get their season off to a flying start. There is a new skipper in town for the home side, with Billy Godleman stepping aside to concentrate on his batting, being replaced by Leus DuPlooy, Derbyshire members and supporters will be keen to see how DuPlooy puts his own stamp on the side.
For Worcestershire Brett D’Olivera continues to take the reigns ably supported by his experienced pros such as the ever dependable Joe Leach, who will be relishing a greener than usual early season pitch with the amount of rain Derby has experienced.
The change in bonus points this season will be an interesting factor in this game, Derbyshire’s opening batters all like to score quickly which may give them an opportunity to secure more bonus points compared to the more stoic openers of Worcestershire. We will have to wait and see if “Baz Ball” trickles down or runs through the county championship like a torrent. Whichever way it should be an intriguing start to the county season at Derby this week.
The number three position is hard to fill in any side and for Derbyshire this had been the case until last season when Brooke Guest was given the often poisoned chalice. However he sucked out the poison and drank from an over flowing cup, as he made 923 First Class runs, including four hundreds and two 50s. He was a calming influence at the fall of the first wicket and his batting was as dependable as his keeping, where he took 52 catches behind the stumps. If Guest can continue that form then, Derbyshire will surely do well again.
Jake Libby was being talked about for an England opener spot not that long ago. In 2021 he scored over 1000 First Class runs but last season he saw a decline in output, down to 688, with 215 of those coming in one of his 21 innings. The decline in Libby’s output was mirrored in a decline in Worcestershire’s fortunes. He is a solid opening batter, a calming influence at the top of the order with a strong almost MCC text book technique. Against the moving ball on early season pitches, it will be vital for Libby to return to form if Worcestershire are also to return to form.
Derbyshire have a fully fit squad to choose from, with both overseas players available from the off. Expect Haider Ali to open the batting with either Luis Reece or Billy Godleman. Last season wicketkeeper batter Brooke Guest made the number three spot his own and if the three spot is his own, Wayne Madsen has put down foundations and built a house at number four. New Skipper DuPlooy, Matt Lamb and Anuj Dal should fill spots five, six and seven After that in the order is where it gets interesting. If a spinner is played expect it to be Mark Watt, if not then any combination of Conners, Lakmal, Chappell, Aitchison could make up the lower order.
Derbyshire squad: Billy Godleman, Haider Ali, Luis Reece, Harry Came, Brooke Guest (wk), Wayne Madsen, Leus du Plooy (c), Matt Lamb, Anuj Dal,. Zak Chappell, Mark Watt, Sam Conners, Ben Aitchison, Suranga Lakmal
Both new signings in Waite and Hose should be available for Worcestershire in this game, after they impressed in their pre season friendly with Warwickshire. Although there hasn’t been an announcement expect Azhar Ali to be available for the Pears, however second overseas player Mitchell Santner may not be there. As ever at the start of the season a battery of young pace bowlers will be chomping at the bit to have a bowl on some greener early season pitches, Alan Richardson will have his work cut out to select just a few of Worcestershire’s promising bowlers to do this.
Worcestershire squad: Ed Pollock, Jake Libby, Azhar Ali, Jack Haynes, Adam Hose, Brett D’Oliveira (c), Gareth Roderick (wk), Matthew Waite, Joe Leach, Josh Baker, Josh Tongue, Adam Finch, Ben Gibbon
Weather and Conditions
This will be the first cricket played at the Incora County Ground this Summer, with all pre season friendlies having to be cancelled due to the outfield being too wet. Since the last cancellation there has been sunshine and no rain in the skies of Derby, so hopefully play should get underway. There is a slight chance of rain on the first morning which Neil Godrick the Derbyshire groundsman will be hoping avoids the ground. After that first morning however the weather looks set fair, although chilly with sunshine and light cloud forecast, so wrap up warm and keep your fingers crossed.
Date: 6th – 9th April 2022
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: Incora County Ground, Derby