Warwickshire entertain Kent at Edgbaston this week in the second round of LV= County Championship matches.
Last week, Warwickshire had the better of a game against Somerset that was reduced to less than three days by a waterlogged outfield. Vice captain Alex Davies and Sam Hain both scored hundreds and the pace quartet of Chris Rushworth, Ollie Hannon-Dalby, Ed Barnard and Hasan Ali all took valuable wickets before time ran out.
Although record rainfall in the South West was responsible for the problems, the company that carried out improvements to the Taunton outfield’s drainage several years ago may well be keeping a low profile at the moment.
Unlike their opponents this week, Kent did manage to achieve a result in the first round. At Canterbury, they beat Northants by seven wickets. Set a tricky target of 227 on the last day, they were teetering slightly at 60-3. Then last year’s batting hero, Ben Compton, was joined by Jack Leaning and the two of them took the home side to victory. Compton could be the only man in cricket history to score hundreds on two consecutive Easter Sundays.
If there is a winner from this week’s contest, it will provide a good pointer to the likely fortunes of the two teams in this year’s four day competition.
Since the start of last season, Sam Hain has scored 1256 first class runs for Warwickshire at an average of just over 66. And still an England cap eludes him. With the likes of Darren Stevens and James Hildreth having departed the scene, Sam must surely be the best current player not to have caught the eye of the national selectors. Until that happens, the Bears will be quite content to see him continue to pile up the runs for them.
Against Northants, Joey Evison took five wickets in the match. Having moved from Notts to Kent, he is seen by many as the all-rounder who will fill those large boots left by Darren Stevens. The early signs are that he could be up to the task.
Warwickshire expect to have Chris Woakes back in the side. He made no first class appearance for the Bears in 2022 so his return will be welcomed. He has declared that he wants to make the Ashes squad, so he has much to prove in relation both to form and fitness. It is less clear who will make way for him in the team.
Warwickshire squad: Will Rhodes (c), Hassan Ali, Ed Barnard, Jacob Bethell, Chris Benjamin, Michael Burgess, Alex Davies, Sam Hain, Olly Hannon-Dalby, Dan Mousley, Chris Rushworth, Chris Woakes, Rob Yates
Kent are not likely to make too many changes to a winning team but have fast bowler Conor McKerr who has joined from Surrey on a two match loan. Also, Fred Klaassen has returned from international duty with the Netherlands. Grant Stewart misses out with a minor injury.
Kent squad: Sam Billings (c), Daniel Bell-Drummond,Ben Compton, Jordan Cox, Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Joey Evison, Michael Hogan, Fred Klaassen, Jack Leaning, Conor McKerr, Matt Quinn
Weather and Conditions
The early season weather might just get in the way of a result, with showers forecast for the first two days at least. As for the pitch, groundsman Gary Barwell seldom produces anything but an excellent pitch, so expect another one this week.
Date: 13-16 April 2023
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham