Hartlepool CC travel to Middlesborough tomorrow as they desperately bid to revive their championship hopes.
Having lost their past two games, Pool have seen themselves slip into second place and three points behind Richmondshire.
Pool have also been unlucky – with Richmond winning two games in a weekend when Pools’ encounters were hit by the weather.
Middlesborough have struggled this term having been the leading lights in recent years.
However, they still have a wealth of talent within their ranks, led ably by ex Durham player James Lowe.
Lowe has been their talisman with both bat and ball this year, while he can also keep wicket if required. His off-spin has caused several batsmen to depart, while his aggressive batting ensures that when he is at the crease, runs come quickly.
Pool are forced to make a couple of changes from last week.
Andy Smith is unavailable due to work commitments, while Will Boyd returns to the second team – Danny Evans replacing him after his exploits leading Hartlepool’s schools football team. James Johnston will take on the gloves in Smith’s absence.
Jack Wilkinson will delay naming his side until he finds out about the availability of key players.
Pool will be hoping Mike Gough can return to the side to add strength to a batting line-up which has faltered lately. Should he be unavailable, Pool may opt for another bowler, possibly Ian Palmer who has returned to the fold following an intensive spell of golfing.
Another issue Pool will be keen to eradicate is their run-outs, with three coming in the last two games. This is an area which has cost Pool dearly in recent weeks.
Callum Prosser has been leading the way with the new ball, while Marc Symington’s variation and the spin of Kas Bodhisha has seen Pool take wickets even when they are defending a low total.
Much will depend on the coin toss against ’Boro and Jack Wilkinson will be hoping to give Pool the best opportunity of the conditions.
With just eight games remaining, Pool will need to fight for every point in their quest for silverware.