With just one day of the Vitality Blast remaining it is time for the 18 counties to focus on red ball cricket once again as another round of LV County Championship matches begin on Monday, a round which is set to be played under blue skies and in glorious heat.
As has been the case most of the season the international game takes the TV spotlight this week so those who want their red ball fix will need to head to the county streams for these games, although they are a perfectly acceptable substitute.
The pick of the matches in the top flight this week is a repeat of the Vitality Blast quarter final from last week as Yorkshire host Surrey at Scarborough. Yorkshire shocked Surrey in the T20 competition but Surrey are undefeated in the Championship and will be looking to keep that record intact. Surrey sit 16 points ahead of Hampshire who are also in action this week. They will face a weakened Warwickshire side in a repeat of another of the Vitality Blast quarter finals. Lancashire sit in this position, 21 points off the lead, and they welcome Somerset to Southport while at the other end of the table there is a huge match at Canterbury as the two sides above the drop meet when Kent host Northamptonshire. Essex welcome bottom placed Gloucestershire to Chelmsford.
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The race for promotion continues in Division Two with a full round of matches this week. Nottinghamshire lead the way in the second tier and they are involved in the pick of the matches when they head to Cardiff to take on third placed Glamorgan. Middlesex are the other team in the automatic promotion spots and they play host to a Worcestershire side who were hoping to have Mohammad Hasnain in their ranks this week but he hasn’t got a visa sorted in time. Derbyshire sit fourth in the table and they head to Durham while the bottom two meet at Hove when Sussex take on Leicestershire.
Surrey looked like an unstoppable force in the Vitality Blast before England came calling for players but they actually get players back from international duty for the Championship with Ben Foakes and Jamie Overton back in the ranks and I think they can see off a Yorkshire side who are missing their two top run scorers this term as well as the likes of Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and David Willey who are usually missing at this stage of a season.
Yorkshire have managed to recruit Shannon Gabriel for an international stint to pep up their bowling attack but there is no getting away from how weak their batting looks for this match. There isn’t even a Tom Kohler-Cadmore, although admittedly he hasn’t played red ball cricket this season. Even Harry Duke is missing and he’s played some decent innings with the bat. Surrey bat so deep it is possible that Jordan Clark comes in at nine in this match and that batting depth along with a couple of good spin options makes me think the leaders pick up another win here.
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