Vitality County Championship Match Preview – Leicestershire v Gloucestershire

Vitality County Championship Match Preview – Leicestershire v Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire look to build on last week’s success, but injuries are becoming a problem

Gloucestershire are back in the Midlands, having enjoyed their first red ball win for 593 days at Northampton last week. This time they are at Leicester to face a side that continues to defy the pundits, currently sitting in equal second place in Division Two, six points ahead of the visitors. Wins for Gloucestershire and Glamorgan in the last round have contracted the table and wins in either of these last two rounds before the Blast will likely move the victor to the top.

Gloucestershire have the benefit of two bowlers who can trouble batters with pace, in a competition where the normal fare is not much more than military medium. Marchant de Lange took eight wickets against Northants and he has now taken 18 wickets in just three starts this season. He missed much of last season with injury and it will be an interesting decision as to whether he is risked for a second week in a row. The problem for Mark Alleyne, the Gloucestershire coach, is that Zaman Akhter and Dom Goodman are both out with hamstring strains and are not expected back intil June. The other quick, Ajeet Singh Dale has played the last four matches, although did have a week off when they missed round four. With the spin threat of Zafar Gohar, Gloucestershire must be a real promotion challenger with their potential to take 20 wickets, as long as their batters can get some runs on the board. Australian Cameron Bancroft is at the top of the order and his 183 runs against Northants was more than in his first three games combined and is a welcome contribution from someone who has not prospered in county cricket over recent years. Miles Hammond has made an excellent start to the season with 443 runs at 55.37 and for the present, the supply of runs is enough for the bowlers to work with.

The strength of Leicestershire’s batting means that they have drawn their five matches so far, but deficiencies in the bowling will make it difficult to get a win. The two Australians lead the run scoring, Peter Handscomb with 353 at 70.60 and Marcus Harris with 352 at 58.66. Rishi Patel has yet to make a mark so far this season with just one half century and will be keen to convert some of the starts he has made. Scott Currie is the top wicket taker with 12 at 34.33 and Ben Mike has eight at 36.18, but the bowlers have not been able to put teams under pressure and there is no news as to when Chris Wright will be available.

When these two sides met in 2023, at Bristol the Foxes dismissed Gloucestershire cheaply in their second innings Wright and Callum Parkinson each taking four wickets to set up a five wicket win. They were also winners at Leicester in a low scoring game, Tom Scriven taking seven wickets.

Gloucestershire’s batters could create an opportunity for their bowlers to put pressure on Leicestershire, particularly if de Lange plays. However the Leicestershire batting has been up to the job so far this season and a draw looks the most likely outcome.

Key players

Given Rehan Ahmed’s relative lack of success as a wicket-taker in Championship cricket, his selection for England was something of a surprise. Since his Test debut at the end of 2022 he has taken just 12 Championship wickets in 12 games at a cost of 60.17 each and has probably made more of an impact at Leicestershire with the bat than the ball. With the success of Cameron Steel and Calvin Harrison this season with 21 and 16 wickets respectively, it is surely time for Ahmed to start spinning his side to some wins.

If de Lange is rested, Gloucestershire will be looking to Pakistani left arm spinner Zafar Gohar to take those extra wickets. He was their top wicket taker in 2023’s Championship and has already taken 11 wickets from just two starts this season. With the addition of his 120 runs at 40.00 he will play a major role in any success Gloucestershire enjoy this season.

Team news

After a week off, Leicestershire should be back refreshed this week. We would expect an unchanged side from their last outing.

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

Gloucestershire will want to rest de Lange, but the bowling resources are being stretched. Ben Charlesworth’s younger brother Luke may come in for his first start of the season. Chris Dent was left out of the squad for the last game following four single figure scores this season.

Gloucestershire squad (from): Graeme van Buuren (c), Cameron Bancroft, James Bracey (wk), Ben Charlesworth, Luke Charlesworth, Ajeet Singh Dale, Marchant de Lange, Zafar Gohar, Miles Hammond, Ed Middleton, Ollie Price, Tom Price, Josh Shaw

Weather and conditions

There may be some rain on day two, but otherwise the forecast is for a mixture of sunshine and clouds.

Wickets have not been that easy to come by in the two games played at the County ground and in both matches the captain winning the toss chose to field.

Date: 17th May 2024

Time: 11:00

Ground: Uptonsteel County Ground, Leicester


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