Cricket: The Week Ahead

Extra Cover: A week in cricket
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The Independent Online
It is the turn of leaders Glamorgan and third-placed Middlesex to take a break from the Championship when they least need it. Both face the Australians during the next week, offering an opportunity for Essex to regain pole position in the Britannic Assurance table, provided they can beat struggling Northamptonshire when the latest round of matches begins on Wednesday.

With the new-ball duo of Ashley Cowan and Mark Ilott as well as off-spinner Peter Such in consistent wicket-taking form, the challenge from Chelmsford has been gathering familiar momentum, although defeat against Somerset in the last round came as an unexpected jolt after three straight wins.

Middlesex seem likely to lose third place to Kent, who face champions Leicestershire at Canterbury. Leicestershire are the only side still unbeaten and would top the table on bonus points but have recorded just one victory, suffering more than any rival from bad weather, which has resulted in a loss of playing time equivalent to almost 13 days of a possible 36.

Watch out for a surge from Warwickshire now that Allan Donald, who took 10 wickets in their victory over Surrey in the last round, is back to fitness. Warwickshire take on a faltering Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.