Another week of action in the LV= County Championship begins on Thursday with the second half of the opening stage of the campaign beginning for a number of the sides in action, on a week where it has to be said the weather could win the day.
With the Indian Premier League suspended at the minute we have another live game to enjoy this week, although just how much play there will be in it remains to be seen. The social media feeds and county streams will keep you up with the action in all the other games.
The defending champions Essex have got themselves in a right hole in terms of qualifying from Group 1 and if they are to keep their hopes of defending their title alive you get the feeling they will have to beat Derbyshire at Chelmsford in a match between the bottom two in the division. The top two both sit this week out which means that the teams in third and fourth have the chance to hit the qualifying positions when they meet at the Riverside, where Durham host Worcestershire.
This is another group where the leader are not in action this week which offers up the chance for four other sides to attempt to catch and overtake them. Despite their point deduction at the start of the season, Somerset are the closest in the table and they welcome Surrey to Taunton looking to back up their win over Hampshire last week. Hampshire are involved in the other match when they look to bounce back from that emphatic defeat with a trip to Lord’s to take on a Middlesex side who were beaten themselves last week.
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It is beginning to look like a straight out cruise for Lancashire and Yorkshire to come out of Group 3. Lancashire currently lead the way but they don’t play this week so Yorkshire have the chance to jump up to top spot. The TV cameras are following them down to Cardiff to take on a Glamorgan side where I would imagine the scrutiny will be on Marnus Labuschagne ahead of The Ashes in the winter. The other match in the group sees the bottom two sides meeting at Hove where Sussex host Kent in a match both teams really need to win.
The form of Essex is a worry and I wonder if they will snap out of their rut in time for the visit of Derbyshire. It is hard to know what is going wrong with them really because this is largely the side which won the title last season and yet they can’t buy a decent score and aren’t able to maintain pressure when they have the ball in their hands. The big problem they could have here is that the damp conditions throughout the week isn’t likely to help Simon Harmer with the ball and that might play into the hands of Derbyshire.
Derbyshire haven’t started the season off how they would have been expected to but not playing last week was a blessing in disguise for them as it has allowed them to get Billy Stanlake over and through quarantine while captain Billy Godleman has overcome his injury so Derbyshire should in theory be at their strongest here. They have an underrated top six who should be capable of putting runs on the board so if Stanlake revs up their bowling attack they could cause a huge upset and condemn Essex to another worrying defeat.
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