James Anderson, the Lancashire and England fast bowler, could bowl the first delivery in first-class cricket at Old Trafford from the “new” Pavilion End.
Lancashire may not have been done any favours by the England management over player availability in the early weeks of the season, but their milestone match against Nottinghamshire in the first week in May – the first in the County Championship at Old Trafford since the square was re-aligned at the end of the 2010 season – has been given a sprinkling of stardust.
It will be Anderson’s only county appearance before the start of the summer’s Test series against West Indies and South Africa, and he will line up against a Notts team who will definitely include Graeme Swann and Samit Patel, and could also be boosted by the return of Stuart Broad.
Swann has been cleared to play in two Championship matches in May, Patel will be back in action this week as he aims to strengthen his claim to the contentious number six position, and England hope that Broad will be fit to return “in early May” after being denied permission to take up his Indian Premier League contract because of his calf strain.
There will also be a couple of high-profile visitors to Aigburth in the next two weeks. Monty Panesar has been cleared to play for Sussex when Lancashire launch their Championship defence on Thursday April 12, and the following week Ian Bell will begin his bid to regain form and confidence when Warwickshire head for Merseyside – although Jonathan Trott will still be resting.
Matt Prior will join Panesar in the Sussex team when Lancashire travel to Hove the week after the Notts game, meaning that there will be no shortage of high-calibre opposition in the first five matches of the season.
Lancashire have still to name a squad for their season’s opener against Sussex, but Kyle Hogg has put off an operation to have his wisdom teeth removed to ensure he can have a first bite at sharing the new ball with Glen Chapple.