Midlands counties finalise preparations

Worcestershire will begin their preparations for the earliest-ever start to a County Championship season by starting their first pre-season friendly on March 24.

The county have arranged a two-day friendly against Somerset at Taunton which will see them playing cricket at a time of year when players traditionally only started their pre-season training.

Worcestershire will also play Somerset in a one-day match at Taunton on March 27 followed by another two-day match against Essex at Chelmsford from March 30 to 31.

A non-first-class friendly against Leeds/Bradford MCCU from April 2 to 4 will complete Worcestershire’s preparations for their opening Championship fixture against Yorkshire on April 8.

Leicestershire, whose players are also spending pre-season in England, will play Cambridge MCCU in a two-day match at Fenner’s starting on March 29 followed by a one-day match against Warwickshire at Grace Road on April 1.

Warwickshire will go into the Leicestershire match just a day after they return from their pre-season tour to Barbados.

Northamptonshire, who are currently preparing for the season in the warmth of Port Elizabeth, have arranged to play a 40-over friendly against Middlesex at Wantage Road on March 31.

Meanwhile, the Unicorns have confirmed the venues for their A team’s fixtures against county opposition in this season Second XI Trophy and Second XI T20 competitions.

The Unicorns, who have replaced the Minor Counties side in the Second XI Trophy, will host Northamptonshire and then Lancashire at Chester Boughton Hall on May 18 and May 19, and Nottinghamshire then Worcestershire at Long Marston on June 29 and June 30.

In the t20 competition Unicorns A will play Leicestershire and then Essex at Shrewsbury School on June 8 and June 10 respectively.

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