The Vitality Blast pauses for another round of LV County Championship action which begins on Sunday when seven matches take place across the two divisions in a week which could be quite big for many teams.
The Test match has the monopoly on the TV coverage but the live streams which the county put out are perfectly good enough to follow these matches over the course of the four days. There are the other updates in the usual places too.
Eight of the 10 sides are in action in Division One this week and that includes the leaders Surrey. The only unbeaten team left in the top flight will host a Kent side who eased their relegation fears when they won in the last round of Championship games and will be hoping to further boost their survival chances here. Hampshire are the team looking to chase Surrey down at the top of the table and they head to former champions Essex while Lancashire in third place travel to Bristol to take on the bottom team Gloucestershire. The other match in the top division comes from Wantage Road where Northamptonshire will look to pull further clear of danger when they host the champions Warwickshire.
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There are only three matches on show in the second tier this week but there is a huge match at Trent Bridge where the top two meet in a contest which could go some way to highlighting where the title is going to go. Nottinghamshire begin the week with a 10 point advantage on Middlesex so they could go a huge step towards the title with a win. Glamorgan and Derbyshire are level in third place and will look to move close to whoever loses at Trent Bridge. Glamorgan make the trip to New Road to take on Worcestershire, who are only a point behind the Welsh outfit, while Derbyshire head to Hove to take on a Sussex side without a win so far this term.
Derbyshire are probably the surprise package in the County Championship this season but when you look at how well they are going in the Vitality Blast as well you wonder if they are a surprise package after all. I say that because they are well in contention to qualify for the quarter finals in that competition. I think most judges expected Derbyshire to improve this term but thought it might need a couple of seasons for Mickey Arthur to manoeuvre them into a force to be reckoned with.
What nobody saw was quite the inspired impact that Shan Masood was going to have as overseas player and captain and his form means Derbyshire have as good a top six as there is in this division outside of Nottinghamshire. To be fair, Sussex had a pretty good looking top order too but they are a young side who at the minute don’t know how to win games. They weren’t winning games with Cheteshwar Pujara on board so you have to fear for them a little now that he is away with India. Other key players like George Garton and Ollie Robinson are also missing here, as is top scorer Tom Clark. Confidence is everything at this stage of a season and Derbyshire are carrying plenty of it after an excellent run in the T20. I expect that to lead them to a victory here.
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