Good morning! And welcome back to the county blog – for a one-match-only August extravaganza. I’m in Hove, which was possibly a bum choice, as the rain is falling and the covers are on and lots of people in tracksuits are standing around looking meaningfully in the grass. There will be no play before lunch and possibly beyond. Hey, ho – at least I’ve been given a lunch token for the Tony Greig café!
When, if, the game begins, it is a crucial one for both sides. Sussex, who have carried all before them in the Blast, have had a miserable time in the Championship. Middlesex, who hope for a late bid for promotion, are at full strength with a revitalised Toby Roland-Jones and Lord’s honours board man Tim Murtagh.
Elsewhere, in Division One the leaders Essex take on Kent in Canterbury. Sam Billings has recovered from his shoulder injury and is due to make his first Championship game of the year. Mohammad Amir will play the final red-ball game of his career
Hampshire travel to The Oval where sixth place Surrey will be led by Ben Foakes in the absence of Rory Burns at Lord’s. Sam Curran will start the game, but might not finish if needed by England later in the week; Tom Curran is out for the season.
Second-placed Somerset travel to Edgbaston where Dom Sibley and Sam Hain return after missing the last Championship game with the Lions. Poor, poor, Olly Stone is out for the season with a stress fracture. Dom Bess will play for Somerset, with Jack Leach at Lord’s with England.
Yorkshire and wooden spoonists Nottinghamshire meet at Scarborough where Chris Nash captains in the absence of Steven Mullaney. David Willey is missing for Yorkshire.
In Division Two, third placed Gloucestershire travel to seventh-placed Derby. Josh Shaw is back from a loan spell from Yorkshire ahead of a permanent move next season. Durham and Leicester meet at Chester le Street; and Worcestershire go to flying-high Northants, where lovely Moeen Ali makes his first Championship appearance of the year.
And in probably the game of the round, second placed Glamorgan entertain Div 2 Leaders Lancashire at Colwyn Bay. In a surprise move Samit Patel has joined Glamorgan on loan for the rest of the season, Australian Shaun Marsh is also due to make his debut. Tom Bailey may return for Lancashire.