Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Worcestershire v Somerset

Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Worcestershire v Somerset

Somerset allrounder Lewis Goldsworthy

Will it be second time lucky for Worcestershire at Kidderminster

Somerset travel up the M5 this week to take on Worcestershire at their temporary home in Kidderminster. The wet weather has created significant problems, but clearly the Worcestershire ground staff had worked hard to get the club ground ready and Scott Borthwick was confident enough to opt to bat first last week. However the bowlers were on top on the first day before David Bedingham’s century in the second innings helped take Durham to a winning total. Worcestershire had a comfortable draw against Warwickshire in the first round of matches and their bowlers set up a winning position against Nottinghamshire before rain prevented any play on the final day. Nathan Smith, their young Kiwi import, has been in the wickets, well supported by 23-year-old Aaron Finch. However Smith is rested this week, giving way to two youngsters, Ben Gibbon and Harry Darley, who has not yet played for the first team. Joe Leach is ever present and has taken six wickets.

Kashif Ali is the headline act with the bat following his two centuries against Warwickshire, but was omitted against Durham after suffering a back injury during training. He is back in the squad this week, so is presumably fit to play. Jake Libby has scored a century and two fifties so far this season and Rob Jones has also been in the runs.

Somerset have played out three draws so far, but did come under pressure from Surrey, who did not quite have enough time to chase down a target of 209. They currently sit third in the table, having steadily accumulated batting and bowling bonus points. Matt Renshaw has made a solid start, although is yet to post a big score, while Migael Pretorius has been signed as a replacement for Will Sutherland. The South African has so far taken 3/298 and Somerset will be hoping for an improved return from his remaining four matches. Kasey Aldridge leads the wicket-taking with ten and returns to the squad after missing the last match. Skipper, Lewis Gregory has started well while new signing Jake Ball has not played the last two games. Not surprisingly Somerset are being cautious with the workload of Craig Overton, who had back surgery in the off season and he is rested this week. Shoaib Bashir has played in the last two matches, taking two wickets, while Jack Leach is unavailable.

Tom Lammonby leads the run scoring with a century and two fifties, but they will be looking for a few more runs from Sean Dickson, Lewis Goldsworthy and James Rew. Andrew Umeed is back in the squad after scoring 176 in a second XI match last week. He is a recent graduate of the South Asian Cricket Academy and forced his way into the Somerset Championship side at the end of last season, following an outstanding One Day Cup campaign. It will be interesting to see if he comes in this week.

Somerset can be inconsistent in their performances, but will start as favourites in this game.

Key players:

Lewis Gregory took over the captaincy from Tom Abell at the start of this season and will be at the forefront of the Somerset effort with both bat and ball. He was vital in Somerset being able to hold out against Surrey in the second round, scoring half centuries in both innings and he has taken nine wickets so far this season. He is close to 4000 first class runs and taken 361 wickets at 26.40, his bowling average marginally above his batting. His last England appearance was back in the summer of 2021, when he played in both the ODI and T20i team against Pakistan and the strength of the white ball team makes a recall unlikely. However that is only to the benefit of Somerset.

Jake Libby scored 1153 runs at 57.65 in the Championship in 2023 going in at the top of the order and he is already in the runs this season. He provides solidity at the top of the Worcestershire batting line up, currently accompanied by Gareth Roderick, who is not quite so at home in the role. There is no sign that he will not be able to reproduce the run scoring of last season and if he does Worcestershire have a chance of being competitive.

Team News:

Worcestershire head coach Alan Richardson has named a 15-man squad. Nathan Smith is rested, while left armer Ben Gibbon and Harry Darley have come in.

Worcestershire squad): Brett D’Oliveira (c), Kashif Ali, Josh Baker, Ethan Brookes, Harry Darley, Adam Finch, Ben Gibbon, Jason Holder, Adam Hose, Rob Jones, Joe Leach, Jake Libby, Ed Pollock, Gareth Roderick (wk), Matthew Waite

For Somerset, Tom Abell and Jack Leach remain unavailable and Craig Overton is rested. Aldridge returns to the squad and Umeed comes in.

Somerset squad (probable): Lewis Gregory (c), Kasey Aldridge, Jake Ball, Tom Banton, Shoaib Bashir, Josh Davey, Sean Dickson, Lewis Goldsworthy, Tom Lammonby, Migael Pretorius, Matt Renshaw, James Rew, Andy Umeed

Weather and Conditions

Rain is forecast over the middle two days, with cloudy conditions on days one and four.

Last week Durham won inside three days, so a result is possible despite the forecast. This week the captain winning the toss may elect to bowl first.

Date: 26th April 2024

Time: 11:00

Ground: Chester Road North Ground, Kidderminster

Odds (Skybet): Worcestershire 5/4; Somerset 8/13


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