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Durham v Middlesex
Ben Stokes is available for Durham’s next two matches, concluded with a visit to Surrey next week. Durham had been hoping to have Mark Wood available during the first month of the season, but both they and England must manage without him after a second ankle operation that will rule him out of much of the summer.
Both teams have drawn their opening fixture – Durham at home to Somerset, when Keaton Jennings became the third player to score a century in each innings for the county, and Middlesex against Warwickshire at Lord’s, when Sam Robson shot to the top of the PCA MVP rankings as he became courtesy of the 337 runs he scored when becoming the first player in Middlesex’s 152-year history to score a double century and a century in the same first-class match.
Surrey v Somerset
Heartening news from the Kia Oval where Zafar Ansari should make his first appearance since suffering a horrendous thumb injury – actually three separate injuries – in a Division Two fixture at Lancashire last September, hours after his inclusion in the England squad for a Test series against Pakistan in the UAE.
Somerset recall the Overton twins for the trip to London. Craig missed the game at Durham through suspension and Jamie was injured: both faced the Cardiff students this week. Jamie Overton and Tim Groenewald are likely to be competing for one place although Jim Allenby may be an injury doubt.
Josh Davey and Ben Green stand down from the squad. Somerset have an unbeaten seven-match Championship run against Surrey stretching back to 2006, when Alistair Brown’s second innings century steered the visitors to a four-wicket victory at Bath.
Warwickshire v Yorkshire
After starting the season with two draws away to Hampshire and Middlesex, Warwickshire's Championship pretensions will be tested by Yorkshire, who are seeking a title hat-trick. History favours Yorkshire. Since they returned to Division One in 2013, they have drawn two and won four matches, three by an innings. Warwickshire have not won a home game against Yorkshire since 2006 – when Jonathan Trott scored an unbeaten 177 – and have managed a single win in their last 15 meetings.
Warwickshire could have Chris Woakes and Boyd Rankin back from injury. or a heavyweight early-season showdown after both missed their second consecutive draw, against Middlesex at Lord’s – Woakes with a knee injury, and Rankin a side strain.
Yorkshire name the same 13-man squad as for their opener against Hampshire, also a draw, which means no confirmation whether David Willey will make his debut. Ryan Sidebottom, their other left-arm seam option who completed 1,000 wickets in his county career during the Hampshire match, took 11 wickets in the equivalent match last summer, when Warwickshire were dismissed for 69 in their first innings.
Derbyshire v Glamorgan
Hamish Rutherford, the New Zealander whose maiden Championship century frustrated Glamorgan in a drawn match at Chesterfield last summer, will continue as Derbyshire’s captain in place of the injured Billy Godleman in the first match of the season at the 3aaa County Ground in Derby.
Glamorgan, overturned at home by Leicestershire, will again lack Colin Ingram, the South African with a knee injury. Harry Podmore, a seamer on loan from Middlesex, and offspinner Andrew Salter have been added to the 13.
Essex v Northamptonshire
Essex, the pacesetters, have Alastair Cook aiming to make it three centuries in three consecutive Championship matches. The England captain has an excellent record against Northants, having scored four previous centuries against them.
Northants have not won at Chelmsford since 1998, when their wickets were shared between Graeme Swann, Paul Taylor and Devon Malcolm. They made a promising start in their opening fixture against Sussex when former England Under-19s wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Duckett hit an unbeaten 282. They are still missing the four players who were ruled out then by injury - Rob Keogh, Steven Crook, Ollie Stone and Rob Newton – and Monty Panesar is still recovering from shoulder surgery.
Gloucestershire v Worcestershire
Moeen Ali joins the Worcestershire squad for the first time this season, after missing their opening washout against Kent at New Road. He replaces Alexei Kervezee in an otherwise unchanged 12, with New Zealand bowler Matt Henry set to make a belated debut as he seeks to attract the attention of the Test selectors during his time at New Road.
Gloucestershire could give a debut to Graeme van Buuren, a South African allrounder who qualifies as a non-overseas signing through his British wife. Craig Miles and Will Tavare are still out, and Benny Howell and captain Gareth Roderick will have fitness tests on a stiff back and a finger injury respectively.
Leicestershire v Kent
Leicestershire, wooden spoonists in each of the last three seasons, are buzzing after winning their first game of the season at Glamorgan, and have made the first day of the match at the Fischer County Ground an Open Day, with free admission. Ned Eckersley is still missing with a finger injury.
Kent have barely concealed their frustration after their opening match at Worcester was washed out, and they sat out the second round of fixtures. Joe Denly will have a fitness test on a side strain but New Zealand opener Tom Latham does not arrive until Monday. Kent won comfortably at Grace Road last year, when Matt Coles took a total of 10 wickets and Darren Stevens scored the only half century of a low-scoring match.