Nottinghamshire, heavy defeat against the current champions Durham at Chester-le-Street in their previous outing notwithstanding, will effectively clinch the County Championship title if they beat Yorkshire in the match starting at Trent Bridge this morning.
The county lead the First Division by 22 points from Somerset, with Andrew Gale's young Yorkshire side a further three points adrift in third. With Somerset playing fourth-placed Lancashire at Taunton this week, and the dry weather of the last week forecast to change for the worse, the leaders know that a win against their northern rivals may mean they travel to Old Trafford for their final fixture next week with the Championship already secured.
Whether they have the wherewithal to bowl Yorkshire out twice, however, may depend partly on the fitness of Darren Pattinson (above), who, in the words of the county's director of cricket, Mick Newell, "turned an ankle" at Durham.
In the absence of Stuart Broad and Ryan Sidebottom, who are on England duty, the seamer who will probably never be allowed to forget, firstly, that he once tiled roofs in Grimsby and, secondly, that his first England cap was also his last, will undergo a fitness test this morning, but Newell is optimistic Pattinson will be ready.
"Patto had a good bowl [this] morning, so we'll be seeing how he comes out of that, but it looked reasonably hopeful," Newell said yesterday. "If the weather is dry, very few games at Trent Bridge end up as draws, so we know if we play good, positive cricket this week we can put ourselves in a very strong position.
"We've already won seven games, two more than Somerset and Yorkshire, so if we were to win another I don't think anybody could accuse us of not being deserving champions."
Gale acknowledged that the Tykes probably have to beat both Nottinghamshire and, in their final game, Kent to have a chance of taking the title. With Adam Lyth the top run-getter in the First Division this season, and both Jacques Rudolph and Anthony McGrath averaging over 50, Gale will be aiming to put the leaders under the sort of pressure they found impossible to resist against Durham.
"Notts are obviously favourites, but we'll do our best against them and if we win, see where that takes us," Gale said.