Leicestershire sitting in second place in Division Two is one of the surprises of the season and is the result of the high percentage of draws (59%) so far in the second tier of the Championship. They are one of only three sides to have achieved two wins and they held out for a draw in their last match against leaders Durham. In their previous game they defeated Gloucestershire. Since then the club has undergone something of an upheaval. Firstly there was the announcement that three senior players, Colin Ackermann, Callum Parkinson and Chris Wright were leaving the club at the end of the season after rejecting new contracts, followed swiftly by Paul Nixon being removed as Leicestershire head coach after almost six years in the role. This followed a poor showing in the Blast in which Leicestershire have won just two games. No specific reason has been given for the departure of Nixon, who as a player represented the Foxes for 20 seasons. Former South Africa seamer Alfonso Thomas and ex-England batter James Taylor have stepped up as joint interim head coach until the end of the season.
On the playing front the Leicestershire batters have been making solid first innings scores with opener Rishi Patel leading the run scoring with 703 at 50.21. A product of Essex’s academy he has always looked a stylish player but failed in previous seasons to put runs on the board regularly. At 24 this might be his breakthrough season, but does that mean he will soon be on his way? Ackerman, Peter Handscomb and Lewis Hill have also been in the runs with 669 runs at 47.78, 640 runs at 53.33 and 573 runs at 44.07 respectively. Wright leads the wicket-taking with 28 at 29.07, backed up by Wiaan Mulder with 16 at 17.50, although Mulder has not bowled in recent games. England leg spinner Rehan Ahmed has just six wickets at 67.66 and he has made more of a contribution with the bat, scoring 423 runs at 38.45.
Glamorgan have been hit hard by injuries, particularly to their batters, but they are hoping to have captain David Lloyd back for this game. Of note, it has been announced this week that Lloyd will be moving to Derbyshire at the end of the season, having been at Glamorgan throughout his career to date. Glamorgan’s other opener Eddie Byrom remains side-lined, and Lloyd will be partnered by one of the two stand-in openers Glamorgan have used, Andrew Salter or Zain ul Hassan. Both have fallen just short of a half century in two of their last four innings. Sam Northeast hit his first century of the season in the last game against Sussex, while Kiran Carlson is having a fine season with 754 runs at 53.85. As with Leicestershire, the bowling is struggling to get the wickets needed to put sides under pressure, although this will be helped by the possible return of Michael Neser, who is surplus to requirements for Australia at present. In his absence much has rested on Timm van der Gugten, who has so far collected 34 wickets at 22.32. James Harris has posed more of a threat in recent games with 18 wickets at 32.27, while the left arm seam of Jamie McIlroy provides some variation to the attack. Australian leg spinner Mitchell Swepson has joined Glamorgan as a replacement for Neser and took 7/141 on debut against Sussex. It appears that the two bowlers might play this week, with Colin Ingram missing out.
The two sides look evenly matched, both with stronger batting line ups than bowling, as reflected in their draw at Leicester at the end of April. Leicestershire batted first and posted 407 thanks to nineties from Handscomb and Ahmed, while van der Gugten took 6/88. In reply, Glamorgan made 465, Chris Cooke (132) and Neser (90) putting on 211 for the eighth wicket. Wright took 5/89 and then Leicestershire were 252/3 when the teams shook hands.
Both counties are going to need to start working hard for wins if they are to get the jump on the other contenders for second place in Division Two and promotion. Durham at present look sealed on to take the top spot. It waits to be seen whether the behind the scenes turmoil at Leicestershire becomes a factor.
Mitchell Swepson has made an immediate impact with his seven wickets at Hove on debut. He has 192 first class wickets at 34.97, mainly for Queensland and has 10 wickets from his four Test matches, the last in Galle against Sri Lanka a year ago. Glamorgan have lacked a home grown red ball spinner for a number of years and brought in Kiwi slow left armer Ajaz Patel at the end of last season. If Swepson gets support from the Glamorgan seam bowlers, the hope will be that he can spin Glamorgan to a win.
Callum Parkinson provides the spin threat for Leicestershire. The orthodox slow left armer bowled 44.3 overs in the last game, taking 4/231. His appearances have been limited by injury this season and he has collected just 10 wickets at 38.8. He will be off to Durham at the end of the season, but Leicestershire will hope that in the meantime he can make further contributions for them in their challenge for a top two spot.
Glamorgan have had a series of injuries to their batters, but will be bolstered by the return of Lloyd. Tom Bevan has also recovered from his shoulder injury and may make a first Championship appearance of the season if Ingram is not able to play. Fortunately, their bowlers have remained fit and will be reinforced by the rumoured return of Neser.
Glamorgan squad: TBC
Rehan Ahmed has been with England, but should be released back to Leicestershire for this game. Josh Hull has been out with injury, but otherwise there are plenty of bowling options available to Leicestershire, the trio of Matt Salisbury, Roman Walker and Will Davis having a productive outing for the seconds in an innings defeat of Nottinghamshire seconds this week.
Leicestershire squad: TBC
Weather and Conditions
After the long dry spell, the weather has become more unsettled and rain is expected on and off throughout the four days.
Sophia Gardens has seen some good paced pitches for T20 games, but the likelihood is that this game will be played on one that is slower paced. The tendency has been for pitches to flatten out as the game progresses, but the forecast rain may freshen things up.
Date: 10th July 2023
Ground: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Odds (SkyBet): N/A