Gloucestershire leading the way

By Will Jackson

After the excitement of the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals over the weekend, the Royal London One-Day Cup returns tomorrow, with six games around the country.

Gloucestershire head into the next round of fixtures top of Group A following their 35-run win over Hampshire, but coach John Bracewell has been disappointed with the team’s batting displays, and is looking for improvements when they come up against Leicestershire Foxes. 

Bracewell said: “We have had three so-so performances and when you come out on top in those circumstances you wonder what really was a par score.

“Our bowling and fielding won us the game and it’s now time our top-order batting took some of the pressure off the bowlers.

Adam Rouse is one of the batsmen that coach John Bracewell is looking to to help his side post competitive totals.

“If we play good cricket the Leicestershire match will look after itself. We believe our side is better suited to this competition than T20 because it is a subtle, rather than just a powerhouse game.”

The New Zealander went on to reveal that Alex Gidman is likely to return to the squad following a back injury, while batsman Gareth Roderick is also back fit and ready to play.

The Foxes are still without skipper Josh Cobb, who has a fractured thumb, and will continue to be led by Scott Styris, who has signed on for the remainder of the tournament.

Shiv Thakor made his first appearance of the season in the win against Essex Eagles and is included again as Leicestershire name an unchanged 13-man squad.

Yorkshire Vikings were one of the teams to suffer defeat to Bracewell’s side – slipping to a narrow three-wicket loss in their last game – and come up against Northants Steelbacks in what should be an even contest, with both sides on two points.

Yorkshire’s Jack Leaning thinks his side can still become the best limited-overs side in the country despite last week’s disappointing loss.

“We’ve got one of the strongest sides in the country, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

“Gloucester was one of those bad days. It’s not every time you come and play and you click. I’m sure we’ll come back stronger. They just played a lot better than we did.”

The Vikings, who have won one and lost one, will be without Jonny Bairstow, who is on England Lions duty and is replaced by Andrew Hodd in the only change to the squad.

The Steelbacks will still have Adam Rossington in the squad after the wicketkeeper extended his loan spell from Middlesex by another month following the heavy defeat to Worcestershire.

David Willey will be unavailable as he joins Bairstow with the Lions squad, while Rob Keogh has returned to training but is unlikely to be ready just yet.

One of the tastiest fixtures of the day comes at the Essex County Ground, where both sides experienced contrasting fortunes in the T20 quarter-finals over the weekend.

Essex Eagles suffered the heartbreak of falling at the last-eight stage on Saturday but Lancashire Lightning edged a one-run win in a nervy clash against Glamorgan.

Tom Smith's impressive form for Lancashire in all formats this season have earned him a call-up to the England Lions squad.

Ravi Bopara will be unavailable for the Eagles and England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler will again be missing for the visitors, along with Tom Smith and Stephen Parry. 

Essex head coach Paul Grayson is looking for his players to bounce back from the weekend’s disappointment.

“I expect to see some good character from our players on Tuesday and collectively expect them to put in a big performance.” he said.

“We are in a good group in our section of this competition and so it’s down to ourselves to play some good cricket and get our confidence going.”

Lancashire twice fell short in pursuit of daunting totals having lost the toss in home games against Yorkshire and Hampshire on the tournament’s opening weekend.

Player-coach Glen Chapple has not featured in white-ball cricket this season and will sit aside once more, despite the absences of Smith, injury victim Kabir Ali and England attack leader James Anderson amounting to a considerable shortfall in the Red Rose seam department.

“Some of our youngsters who have been desperate for a first-team call up will be getting a chance this week, which is great for them to be able to stake their claim and show what they can do,” the veteran all-rounder told his county’s official website.

In Group B, Durham will be looking to record back-to-back wins when they travel to Sussex Sharks.

They have lost two of their three games so far but an impressive win over Warwickshire last time out sets them up well to face a Sharks side that has yet to taste victory in the format.

Durham have made just one change from that win, with Paul Coughlin replacing Ben Stokes in the squad as the all-rounder joins up with England ahead of the fourth Investec Test.

Paul Coughin could get his chance in the 50-over format for Durham, with all-rounder Ben Stokes away on England duty

Sussex will also be without a key all-rounder with international commitments in the form of Chris Jordan. Also missing will be Luke Wright, Rory Hamilton-Brown, Michael Yardy, James Anyon and Matt Prior.

Surrey host Kent Spitfires at the Kia Oval, with the two teams experiencing contrasting campaigns.

Although they made it through to finals day, Surrey have lost both their games in the cup whereas Kent have been very impressive in winning both of theirs.

Surrey have excluded pacemen Jade Dernbach and Matt Dunn due to fitness concerns, but Chris Tremlett is in line for his first 50-over appearance of the season. Jason Roy is another who will be missing due to Lions commitments.

Elsewhere in Group B, Warwickshire host Somerset at Edgbaston.

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