After a thrilling week of limited overs cricket it is back to the four day game for the county sides this week as the County Championship climax begins to heat up in both divisions with everything still to be decided.
Top spot in both divisions could become a little clearer with the eight matches this week while the relegation battle could get even more significant in a really important set of games in the top flight.
Four big matches take place in this division as Durham host Warwickshire at the Riverside, Yorkshire take on Nottinghamshire at Scarborugh, Somerset face Hampshire at Taunton and Surrey play Lancashire at The Oval.
With leaders Middlesex not in action the likes of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Somerset will be looking to close the gap on them while at the bottom both Hampshire have Nottinghamshire will be eager to get the win which could pull them away from the threat of relegation.
The matches between Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire and Somerset and Hampshire don’t really interest me from a betting point of view. There is an argument to be made that Hampshire are value at Taunton but without Liam Dawson it isn’t for me.
I was tempted by Surrey who seem to have found their groove at long last this season but they are without Jason Roy and Zafar Ansari among others which is less than ideal so that is enough to put me off the even money on them but I do like a punt in the other match.
Durham had a hard weekend and losing a final like that takes its toll it has to be said. In this competition they have been very ordinary with the bat for far too long and with Ben Stokes and Mark Wood in the England squad they are without arguably their two best players.
Warwickshire haven’t been going a whole lot better than Durham in recent times although their defeats were to an in form Surrey and a Yorkshire powerhouse so they might not be as bad as their results suggest. Warwickshire haven’t lost anyone to England other than Chris Woakes and they’ve been without him all summer. That could be the difference between these two so I’ll take the Bears to ease any relegation fears.
All eyes will be on Grace Road in this division this week for a couple of reasons. Not only do the top two meet when Leicestershire host Essex but Alastair Cook will feature for the visitors. With a 23pt lead heading into the round of matches Essex can all but secure the title with a win here.
Kent will be hoping to keep tabs with Essex when they head to Bristol to take on a Gloucestershire side who have the potential to be dangerous. Worcestershire are hanging around in the title picture and have to beat Northamptonshire to remain in it. The other match in the division is a dead rubber between Sussex and Glamorgan at Hove.
There isn’t a huge amount I fancy in this division. I’m hoping Essex win as I’m on them for the league and I’m hoping Northants and Glamorgan pick up some points to pull away from Derbyshire at the bottom as I’m on Derbyshire to finish bottom but in terms of winners this week there isn’t anything I like at the prices so I’ll leave the division alone.
PUSH – Back Warwickshire to beat Durham for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with Ladbrokes