Derbyshire has named a 12-man squad for the opening Specsavers County Championship match of the season against Middlesex at The 3aaa County Ground, starting on Friday 20 April; 11am.
New signings Duanne Olivier and Ravi Rampaul are set to feature in a strong Derbyshire pace attack, alongside Hardus Viljoen. Experienced seamer Tony Palladino and young quick Will Davis provide further bowling options.
Ben Slater is set to open the batting after an impressive pre-season saw him hit 89 not out in a rain-affected match at Edgbaston, before going on to score an unbeaten 221 in the Second XI victory over Nottinghamshire.
Luis Reece and Wayne Madsen complete the top-order, whilst Alex Hughes and Matt Critchley slot into the middle order and offer further options with bat and ball.
Gary Wilson, who led Ireland in a pre-season fixture versus Somerset earlier in the month, will take the gloves.
1. Billy Godleman
26. Ben Slater
10. Luis Reece
77. Wayne Madsen
18. Alex Hughes
20. Matt Critchley
9. Gary Wilson
28. Tony Palladino
41. Ravi Rampaul
7. Hardus Viljoen
74. Duanne Olivier
44. Will Davis
Middlesex began life in Specsavers County Championship Division Two with a 160-run victory over Northamptonshire in the opening round of fixtures.
England internationals Eoin Morgan and Dawid Malan are unavailable, whilst Steven Finn remains a doubt. However, led by Sam Robson, they are due to bring a strong squad to Derby, including Toby Roland-Jones and Paul Stirling.
James Harris and Tim Murtagh shone with the ball at Lord’s last week, taking eight and nine wickets in the match respectively.
Middlesex Squad: Robson (Captain), Cartwright, Franklin, Harris, Helm, Holden, Murtagh, Rayner, Roland-Jones, Scott, Simpson (wicket-keeper), Stirling, White.
Billy Godleman is looking forward to the season opener against his former club and he believes his Derbyshire squad are ready for the test against a strong Middlesex side.
He said: “To have the balance of attacking, experienced and skilful bowlers is really exciting for the Club. If we can keep those guys out on the field, then we have a very skilful and useful bowling unit.
“Middlesex are one of the most powerful counties and County Champions only two years ago. We know they’re a good side, but we’re looking forward to giving them a tough game and we have the squad to do that.”
After a number of strong performances in a rain-affected pre-season calendar, Godleman is pleased to see batsmen reach three figures ahead of the run of Specsavers County Championship fixtures.
Godleman added: “To see lads go on and score big hundreds is pleasing. It’s something in the first innings of first-class cricket which we have earmarked as an area we can improve. First innings runs sets up the game for the team, so well played to those guys and it gives us further selection considerations.”
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