Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Leicestershire v Northamptonshire

Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Leicestershire v Northamptonshire

It’s an East Midlands derby at Leicester this week.

Leicestershire and Northamptonshire will both feel the weather deprived them of eight points last week, as they were denied the opportunity of bowling for victory, when the final day of their games was washed out. Neither side would be considered as strong contenders for promotion, but both have a history of cofounding predictions.

Leicestershire have two experienced Australian batters in their squad, Marcus Harris fresh from a double century against Derbyshire alongside Peter Handscomb. Rishi Patel was one of the form batters of 2023 and he too has made a solid start this season. Ben Mike has starred with both bat and ball following his return from Yorkshire, scoring 161 runs at 80.5 and taken nine wickets. Scott Currie, who took six wickets in the Derbyshire game, is on a season long loan from Hampshire and they have also brought in Somerset all-rounder Ben Green for three matches. There is no news as to how long Chris Wright will be absent, but the good news for the Foxes is that Josh Hull played in a second XI match last week and should be in contention for a starting spot. Liam Trevaskis took two wickets, but Rehan Ahmed is said to be available for this game, as is Matt Salisbury. They may find it difficult to force their way into a bowling line up that performed so well last week.

Northamptonshire escaped defeat in their first game at Hove and then took part in a high scoring draw against Middlesex. They seem to have solved their problems at the top of the order with the return to form of Ricardo Vasconcelos, who scored 182 against Glamorgan. He has been short of runs in recent seasons and Northants will be hoping that he and Emilio Gay, who made a career best 261 against Middlesex, will be able to provide a solid start to a batting line up that struggled in 2023. They do have the services of Indian batter Karun Nair, who came in for the last three matches last summer and scored 249 runs. He also posted a double century last week.

As with Leicestershire, the bowling is not the most threatening, but Ben Sanderson is a seasoned campaigner. They also have the services of Chris Tremain for one more game before his visa expires, although the 32-year-old Australian has taken just two wickets in the three games so far this season. There has been no announcement regarding a replacement overseas player.

The two sides have not met in a red ball game since the end of the 2019 season, when the makeup of the two squads was very different. Both teams have strong batting line ups that have been in the runs and it remains to be seen whether either of the bowling units can make sufficient inroads to achieve a win, particularly as it looks likely the weather will intervene.

Key players:

Tom Scriven started his cricket career at Hampshire and was part of the 2018 England under 19 World Cup squad. The 25-year-old all-rounder moved to Leicestershire for the start of the 2022 season and has now signed a contract taking him to the end of 2025. Last summer he was Leicestershire’s second highest Championship wicket taker behind Wright, with 39 at 23.87, although he will have been disappointed with his contribution with the bat. In the absence of Wright, he will be expected to get in amongst the Northants batters.

Luke Procter has a lot on his plate. He took over the Championship captaincy at the start of the 2023 season and will be hoping for better fortunes this summer. He has made a solid start with the bat posting 271 runs at 67.75 and is a useful fourth seamer. The 35-year-old had been part of the Lancashire Championship winning side of 2011, but moved to Northamptonshire in 2017, having played some games on loan the previous year. His most successful season was in 2022 when his 961 runs at 53.38 (including three centuries) helped maintain Northants in Division One.

Team News:

Alfonso Thomas has the luxury of being able to bring in Hull, Salisbury and Ahmed to strengthen the attack. There is still uncertainty about Wright’s status.

Leicestershire squad (from): Lewis Hill (c), Rehan Ahmed, Sol Budinger, Ben Cox (wk), Scott Currie, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Josh Hull, Louis Kimber, Ben Mike, Rishi Patel, Matt Salisbury, Tom Scriven, Liam Trevaskis, Sam Wood, Chris Wright

Scrimshaw was in the squad for last week’s game and may come in to rotate the seamers. Jack White remains unavailable.

Northamptonshire squad (probable): Luke Procter (c), George Bartlett, Michael Finan, Emilio Gay, Rob Keogh, Lewis McManus (wk), Karun Nair, Alex Russell, James Sales, Ben Sanderson, George Scrimshaw, Chris Tremain, Ricardo Vasconcelos, Saif Zaib

Weather and Conditions

Unfortunately rain is forecast to be a constant theme throughout the four days.

The captain winning the toss will likely want to bowl first, but it seems likely there will be plenty of interruptions.

Date: 26th April 2024

Time: 11:00

Ground: Grace Road, Leicester


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