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    Warwickshire will face Worcestershire in a cricket match that may be affected by rain
Warwickshire will face Worcestershire in a cricket match that may be affected by rain
The weather may prove the winner in the season opener at Edgbaston. Source: Getty Images

Warwickshire will face Worcestershire in a cricket match that may be affected by rain

The 2024 County Championship season begins on Friday with Warwickshire's Bears-Pears derby at home to rivals Worcestershire, which is arguably the highlight.

The weather, however, is the main topic of discussion following England's wettest 18 months on record.

Pre-season preparations across the counties have been severely disrupted and it may be some time before the season really gets underway.

Worcestershire, who are already scheduled to play their first two games away from home due to the ongoing flood threat, will now also have to stage their opening two home matches at Kidderminster. The team will have their two overseas signings, Jason Holder and Nathan Smith, making their debut.

Warwickshire, who will be missing the injured Pakistan paceman, Hasan Ali, have former Pears all-rounder Ed Barnard available after winter surgery. He will face his old county for the first time in red-ball cricket. The team also hopes to have Liam Norwell fit to start his first Championship game since September 2022.

The forecast suggests that the match is likely to be affected by rain, with at least three of the four days expected to be wet. Former West Indies skipper Holder was particularly frustrated by this.

Within three hours of arriving in England on Tuesday, he was already practising in the nets at Chester Road alongside New Zealander Smith.

The Pears will be without winter signing Tom Taylor, who injured his knee in an accidental collision with an outfield player in a warm-up game this week, leaving a place for former skipper Joe Leach as he recovers from knee surgery in January.

This will be the first Championship meeting between the two sides since the post-Covid season of 2021. The competition was briefly split into three groups of six.

Both matches at Edgbaston in May and New Road in July were drawn, with the Bears finishing second in their six-team group before becoming county champions by beating a second six-team reformed Division One over four matches to win the title.

Led by new captain Alex Davies, the Bears have only five players remaining from their last meeting three summers ago: former skipper Will Rhodes, Rob Yates, Sam Hain, Michael Burgess, and Norwell. Paceman Craig Miles has been loaned out to Glamorgan.

The Worcestershire cricket team has only retained four players from their previous encounter: captain D'Oliveira, opener Jake Libby, and pacemen Leach and Finch. The newly promoted Pears are determined to make a strong start to the season, which is scheduled to end on 29 September, making it the longest-ever Championship season.

Warwickshire (from): Davies (capt), Barnard, Benjamin, Bethell, Booth, Briggs, Burgess, Hain, Hannon-Dalby, Mousley, Norwell, Rhodes, Rushworth, Yates

Worcestershire (from): D'Oliveira (capt), Libby, Roderick, Kashif Ali, Jones, Hose, Holder, Waite, Smith, Leach, Finch, Pollock, Brookes, Darley, Baker

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