The penultimate round of matches in the LV= County Championship prior to the break for the Vitality Blast takes place this week with all those still chasing the top two in their groups hoping the weather relents a little and allows a chance of a result being achieved.
The last round of matches was decimated by the weather but the rain is expected to have gone now and the temperatures are climbing higher so we should be in for a full week of cricket, one in which yet again we have a televised game to enjoy.
The only group with a full set of matches this week is Group 1 where the stakes remain pretty high with just 26 points separating the leaders and the fifth placed side. It is Nottinghamshire who now head the way in this section. The head to Edgbaston to take on fourth placed Warwickshire this week while Essex in second make the long journey up north to take on third placed Durham for whom a win would leave them looking pretty handy. The other match in the group comes from New Road where the two winless teams go at it as Worcestershire host Derbyshire.
Just one point separates the top two in Group 2 with Gloucestershire marginally ahead of local rivals Somerset. The latter are not in action this week so the former have the chance to pull clear when they head to the capital to take on a Surrey side who are showing signs of life, albeit they lose their England players for this week. The only other match in the group sees Leicestershire and Middlesex meeting at Grace Road with the minor honours in the section all those two are playing for now.
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Group 3 is where the televised match comes from this week as the top two meet at Old Trafford when Lancashire host Yorkshire in the first Roses clash of the season. Three points separate these two at the top of the table so whoever comes out on top will lead the way heading into the last round of games before the T20 break. Northamptonshire won’t have given up hope of chasing down whoever loses that match though. In order to do that they will need to win when they head to Hove to take on Sussex.
I’ll start out with one bet this week. I say start out because if the weather is good and the cricket follows the right patterns I may well put up an in-running preview at some point in the week. For now though my attention comes from Hove where I think Sussex are the team to take on this week. They have only got one win in their six matches and that was with Ollie Robinson and now they are without him as he has joined up with the England squad.
Robinson is their top wicket taker with 29 wickets and only one other player in the squad has more than nine this term so they are really going to miss him. When you consider that Jofra Archer is out injured and Chris Jordan is still taking the scenic route back from the IPL, this Sussex attack looks light to me. Northamptonshire were rocked by the news that Alex Wakely chose to retire immediately on Wednesday but he has only played one Championship match this season so they won’t be too inconvenienced until it comes to the white ball stuff. The Steelbacks have Gareth Berg and Ben Sanderson in great form with the ball and five of their players are averaging more than 40 for the season with the bat. I think in an even match Northants are the ones to be with here.
WON – Back Northamptonshire to beat Sussex (DNB) for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with Coral