We are entering the final month of the Specsavers County Championship season and there is still plenty to be decided across the two divisions, much of which will have their pictures become a little clearer this week when the next set of fixtures kick off on Wednesday.
Both the top and the bottom of Division One is in focus this week while the race to escape out of Division Two is really intensifying and all the main contenders for that are in action as well so this is a big week of cricket.
There are four matches in this division this week. They are Durham vs Nottinghamshire at the Riverside, Hampshire vs Yorkshire at the Ageas Bowl, Lancashire vs Somerset at Old Trafford and Warwickshire vs Middlesex at Edgbaston.
Both Warwickshire and Middlesex are missing some key players this week so that is a match I can easily pass over while Durham aren’t playing for a whole lot against a Nottinghamshire side who look done for the season now. I was tempted by Hampshire against an England wrecked Yorkshire side but I can’t get my head around the decision to send Adam Wheater on loan to Essex so I’ll leave that too. That leaves one match.
Lancashire’s excellent start to the season has been forgotten now and they are plummeting down the table. They might have enough already to survive the drop but that is anything but guaranteed but their defeat to Surrey last week spoke of a side who are really struggling.
Somerset have to overcome the disappointment of losing in the 50 over semi-final earlier in the week but if they do that then they are playing some good cricket in this competition and in Jack Leach they have the best spinner in the division which could be crucial at Old Trafford. They don’t lack anything with the bat either as we saw last week and at 10/11 they look the value to me.
All eyes will be on Chelmsford to see if Essex can take a step closer to the title when they host Worcestershire while the other three matches see Derbyshire going up against Gloucestershire in Derby, Northants facing Glamorgan at Northampton and Sussex vs Kent at Hove.
This might be Essex’s biggest test between now and the end of the season and from an outright bet point of view I’m hoping they can overcome that and take a step closer to the title so I’ll leave that one. Gloucestershire are without Michael Klinger now which isn’t ideal so I don’t want to back them and neither Northants or Glamorgan are playing for anything so that is easy to leave alone as well.
I will take Kent in the other match. Sussex are decimated with injuries and international call ups this week and promotion chasing Kent can take advantage of that. Kent have avoided the potential international call ups they could have had and have even strengthened their squad with the signing of the South African bowler Hardus Viljoen who began life in Kent brilliantly last week.
Kent’s batting always looks strong and with Viljoen, Matt Coles and Darren Stevens in the wickets not to mention Will Gidman and potentially Mitch Claydon they look stronger than Sussex with the ball in this match given that Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer and George Garton are all unavailable for various reasons. That’s enough to lead me to a punt on Kent.
PUSH – Back Somerset to beat Lancashire for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with Ladbrokes
WON – Back Kent to beat Sussex for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with Ladbrokes