It is the final week of the county cricket season this week. The last set of fixtures in the Specsavers County Championship will decide the title and relegation. While all the necessaries have been decided in Division Two there is still all to play for in Division One.
Three sides head into this round of games with a chance of winning the title. The season concludes with a mouth-watering clash between the current top two in the table while the final relegation spot is still to be settled too. Such is the excitement expected in this finish that Sky have decided to televise the Middlesex vs Yorkshire match.
The big game in the division is the one at Lord’s where Middlesex host Yorkshire. Middlesex go into the round of matches with nine point lead over Yorkshire. Were the leaders to slip up Somerset would win the title if they beat Nottinghamshire at Taunton and gain one more point than Yorkshire.
At the other end of the table we know that Nottinghamshire are relegated. Hampshire host Durham at the Ageas Bowl knowing they have to win. If they do they are likely to survive as the two sides immediately above them, Lancashire and Warwickshire, meet each other at Edgbaston.
There is only one place to start in this division and it is what is likely to be the title decider. On the best prices you can get evens both sides but there is only one side I want to be on and that is the hosts Middlesex. They are unbeaten this season for a reason and they have managed to maintain a strong squad for this match.
Yorkshire have been completely mugged off by not having Jonny Bairstow available. Adil Rashid doesn’t fancy it and that is two potentially massive players that Yorkshire are without. There were signs last week that this season was getting away from them and since Jason Gillespie announced he was leaving at the end of the season they haven’t looked bang on it.
Somerset are close enough that Middlesex can’t play for the draw here. That should serve them well because I think they will be good enough to win.
In the other matches I’m expecting Somerset, Hampshire and Warwickshire to win. I would’ve considered putting them in a treble were it not for the must win natures. This means sides may be forced to sacrifice a fair game to chase a win. I’ll stick with Middlesex.
The top two in this division meet as well as Kent host Essex. Essex have already secured the title and go on a victory lap here. The other matches see Worcestershire taking on a Derbyshire side who are confirmed to finish bottom this season. Sussex head to Bristol to face Gloucestershire and Leicestershire host Glamorgan at Grace Road.
Usually I wouldn’t bet in a round of dead rubbers but I can’t ignore Kent at home to Essex. Essex are without the retiring Graham Napier, Alastair Cook, James Foster and Jamie Porter for this match while Kent have named a full strength squad.
There is the school of thought that Essex will want to send David Masters into retirement with a win. They might want to but they didn’t exactly go out of their way to win once the title was secured last week. With the subsequent celebrations which will have undoubtedly taken place since then they might lack intensity here. Kent shouldn’t and I’m on them here.
If there was anything on the other matches I might well have looked at sticking Worcestershire in a combo of some kind but dead rubbers are dangerous and I’m not getting lured in.
WON – Back Middlesex to beat Yorkshire for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with Coral
PUSH – Back Kent to beat Essex for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with Ladbrokes