Andy Wilson summarises the Specsavers County Championship team news for this weekend's matches (Friday, 11am start)...
Sussex v Kent
Sussex give debuts to two South Africans – Vernon Philander, who has joined them as overseas player for the early weeks of the season, and Stiaan van Zyl, a left-hander who has joined them as a Kolpak registration – while a third, the seamer David Wiese, has rejoined for a second stint.
Kent also have a returning South African in Wayne Parnell, the left-arm seamer who has signed a short-term deal, and boosts their bowling options after an opening win against Gloucestershire in Canterbury. They dominated both Championship meetings between the south coast neighbours last summer, with Sussex hanging on for a draw at Tunbridge Wells but suffering an innings defeat at home in Hove.
Derbyshire v Northamptonshire
Derbyshire make a late start to their campaign, with a squad that has been considerably reshaped by director of cricket Kim Barnett, against a Northants side who are on a run of four consecutive wins stretching back to last season, having claimed a first-round win for the first time since 1995 by demolishing Glamorgan inside two days. The Peakites are missing one of their major winter signings as South African seamer Hardus Viljoen is injured, but could have four debutants – Ireland wicket-keeper Gary Wilson, who has arrived from Surrey and been appointed vice captain; Sri Lankan leg-spinner Jeevan Mendis; Daryn Smit, an England-qualified South African batsman who played for Ramsbottom last summer; and former Lancashire all-rounder Luis Reece.
Durham v Nottinghamshire
The two teams who came down from Division One last season, albeit in contrasting circumstances – and after Notts opened with a convincing win at Leicester, they are already 70 points ahead of Durham as a result of the latter’s 48-point handicap. Notts will have to make at least one change, with Stuart Broad resting under instruction from the ECB, and likely to be replaced by Jake Ball. Durham include their England pair Keaton Jennings and Mark Wood, and are set to hand a debut to South African opener Stephen Cook.
Glamorgan v Worcestershire
Aussie seamer John Hastings is set to make his debut for a Worcestershire team under the fresh captaincy of Joe Leach, with Daryl Mitchell returning to the ranks. Glamorgan have a good recent record against them in Wales, with two wins and two draws in the last four meetings, but made a nightmare start to the season as they lost inside two days at Northampton, despite handing a debut to Marchant de Lange and re-signing Harry Podmore on a second loan spell from Middlesex.
Gloucestershire v Leicestershire
Two teams aiming to bounce back after opening defeats at Kent and at home to Nottinghamshire respectively. Leicestershire, who still have to reclaim 11 of the 16 points they were docked on the eve of the season for disciplinary issues, are boosted by the return to fitness of the former Middlesex captain Neil Dexter, and the former Warwickshire and Worcestershire seamer Richard Jones. Gloucestershire are set to be unchanged with former Durham wicketkeeper Phil Mustard continuing as captain as Gareth Roderick recovers from illness.