England’s leading Test run-scorer is set to face the country’s leading wicket-taker when Lancashire look to snatch the LV= County Championship Division Two title against Essex tomorrow.
James Anderson is set to spearhead the bowling attack for Lancashire, who need to take nine points more from their final fixture at Chelmsford than Surrey manage against Northamptonshire to go up as champions.
Their task will no doubt be made harder by the presence of Alastair Cook in the Essex ranks, as England’s captain looks to gain some time in the middle ahead of next month’s tour to the United Arab Emirates.
Essex have won two and drawn one since the appointment of Chris Silverwood as acting head coach, and he has told his side to prove their credentials against one of the promoted sides.
“The final choice will be made once we’ve had a look at the pitch and the weather conditions,” he told the club’s website.
“It’s great to have Cooky back with us and there is now lot of competition for places but it’s nice to have that problem.
“We had a terrific win at Leicester where Nick Browne produced a career-best innings. He’s turned into a cracking player for us and is a great team member.
“I’m delighted with the way the guys have responded since I took over responsibility for the first team; I’ve really enjoyed taking charge of these guys.
“It will be interesting to see how we get on against Lancashire who are obviously one of the best two teams in Division Two this year.”
Surrey know that victory will guarantee them top spot in Division Two, and possibly heal some of the pain from Saturday’s Royal London One-Day Cup final defeat to Gloucestershire at Lord’s.
The hosts will again be without all-rounder Zafar Ansari at the Kia Oval, so spinner Freddie van den Bergh could come in for a debut, while visitors Northamptonshire will be hoping to pip Essex to third place with victory.
Derbyshire could hand a first-class debut to Greg Cork when they host Leicestershire.
The son of former England all-rounder Dominic has made 12 limited-overs appearances for the club, but could get his first taste of red-ball cricket with Shiv Thakor and Tony Palladino both injured.
The visitors are already consigned to ending a third successive season at the foot of the Championship.
Glamorgan will be without Mark Wallace for the first time in 14 years – a run of 230 Championship matches – when they travel to Royal London One-Day Cup winners Gloucestershire.
Wallace tore his calf against Northants last week and sits out for the first time since June 2001.
Kieran Bull and Ruaidhri Smith have also been ruled out for the season’s finale.
“I’m probably due an injury to be fair,” Wallace told the club website. “I would have taken 230 games in a row when I got called up to go to Maidstone in 2001, so I can’t really grumble.”
LV= County Championship Division Two statistics
Derbyshire v Leicestershire
• Leicestershire have not claimed a victory in three visits to Derby (D1 L2).
• Derbyshire have only suffered one loss in their last seven games versus Leicestershire (W3 D3).
• Tony Palladino has the best economy of any bowler this season (2.5, min 300 overs).
• Derbyshire are without a win in seven home games (D4 L3).
• Leicestershire are unbeaten in their last two games having won the toss (W1 D1).
Essex v Lancashire
• Essex have failed to win any of their last 13 home meetings with Lancashire (D6 L7); their last victory coming back in 1997.
• The last three times these sides have faced off when the first day has been a Tuesday, Lancashire have won.
• Two of the three highest scoring batsmen this season in Divison Two are involved in this game (Ashwell Prince 1427 & Nick Browne 1126).
• Essex have won back-to-back games heading into this match.
• Lancashire have failed to win any of their last four end of season matches (D3 L1).
Gloucestershire v Glamorgan
• Glamorgan have only lost one of their last 11 visits to Gloucestershire (W5 D5).
• Gloucestershire haven’t lost against Glamorgan in their last four attempts when winning the toss (W1 D3).
• David Payne took a four-fer in each Glamorgan innings when these teams last faced off (August 2015).
• Having previously been on a run of nine home games without winning at home, Gloucestershire are now three matches unbeaten on their own patch (W2 D1).
• Glamorgan haven’t won an away game since June 2015; one win in their last 14 on the road (D9 L5).
Surrey v Northamptonshire
• Northamptonshire have gone seven games without winning the toss against Surrey.
• The London side are unbeaten in nine versus Northamptonshire (D3 L6).
• The three batsman with the highest strike rates (300 balls faced minimum) play for one of these two sides (Crook 96.9, Willey 94 and Roy 90.6).
• Surrey are unbeaten in seven matches (W5 D2).
• Northants have only won one of their last 18 away matches that have started on a Tuesday (D11 L6).
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