By Rob Barnett
LV= County Champions Yorkshire are without the injured Tim Bresnan but have otherwise named a strong squad for the visit of Somerset in the last round of matches, starting tomorrow.
The White Rose clinched the title 10 days ago and were not in action last week. They have included England batsmen Joe Root and Gary Ballance in a 13-man party.
Bresnan has suffered a torn pectoral muscle so Matthew Fisher and Andrew Hodd come in to the squad as cover.
Sixth-placed Somerset could finish third in Division One with a convincing victory at Headingley and other results going their way.
To do that, they will need to overtake Nottinghamshire, who are not in action this week, Sussex and last season’s champions Durham.
Fifth-placed Durham are basking in the glow of Saturday’s Royal London One-Day Cup final defeat of Warwickshire, who host them at Edgbaston this week.
Ben Stokes, Calum MacLeod and Peter Chase are unavailable to Durham due to international commitments, as are injured trio Graham Onions, Jamie Harrison and Gavin Main. Seamer Mark Wood is in a 13-man squad and could make a first championship appearance since the reverse fixture with Warwickshire in mid-July.
Chris Rushworth, who stunningly took 15 wickets in 18 overs during victory over relegated Northamptonshire last week, says Durham are targeting third.
“We’ll go there. We’ll fight for a win. The lads know we’re a better team than what we’ve shown in the championship this year,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“We’ll go there wanting to win and hopefully we can finish off on a massive high with a Lord’s final and a win and hopefully cement a third- or fourth-placed finish in the championship. If so we’ll come out of the season very pleased.”
Having missed out on a limited-overs trophy double, Warwickshire are desperate to hold on to second place in Division One. They must do so without England duo Ian Bell and Chris Woakes.
Boyd Rankin, who played at Lord’s on Saturday and is again hoping to feature, told ecb.co.uk: “It’s important now that after the final we concentrate on second place. “I think it makes it a lot easier that we know what we need to do – and who is near us.
“They’ve played well but it is a slightly different wicket here and we’ve been playing really good cricket.
“We want to finish the season strongly and we’ll be pushing for the win. It is really exciting that we’ve had something to play for these past few weeks, while other teams have probably have had little to play for.
“That just makes it that bit easier getting up in the morning and knowing that you can affect how things are going to go for the rest of the season.”
Sussex will seek to take advantage of any Warwickshire slip-up when they face Northants at Wantage Road.
Chris Jordan is unavailable at the request of the ECB so left-arm seamer Chris Liddle comes into the squad, with Sussex still missing injured quartet James Anyon, Rory Hamilton-Brown, Matthew Hobden and Matt Prior.
Who goes down with Northants will be decided at Emirates Old Trafford where Lancashire host Middlesex. Click here for a full preview, featuring exclusive quotes from Middlesex skipper Chris Rogers.
LV= County Championship facts
*Northamptonshire have won four of their last five home championship games against Sussex, drawing the other. Sussex have won once in their last 14 visits to Northampton.
*Durham have won the toss in their last four championship matches against Warwickshire, but have won one of these games (lost two, drawn one).
*Yorkshire have won five of their last eight championship fixtures against Somerset at Headingley (lost two, drawn one).
*Lancashire have drawn their last five home championship clashes with Middlesex.
*Three players have scored at least 500 runs and taken at least 25 wickets in this season’s championship at a batting average above 30 and bowling average below 30: James Middlebrook, Andrew Hall and Rob Taylor.
*Since the start of 2012 only Jim Allenby and Darren Stevens have scored at least 2,000 championship runs and taken at least 100 wickets. Andrew Hall needs 40 runs and five wickets to become the third player to achieve this feat.
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