Well into August, we’re nearing the business end of this season in the LV=County Championship, and it’s all still to play for. First Team Scorer Roger ‘The Duke’ Marshall has topped up his thermos and biscuit tin, and is preparing for what promises to be an absorbing run in.

Ahead of each round of fixtures, he will be pitched against a Nottinghamshire luminary in a prediction challenge. You can join in by tweeting your predictions with the hashtag #Beattheduke with prizes on offer for competitors and champion tipsters. 

This week sees Nottinghamshire, keen to improve their recent form in the longer format, host Yorkshire, who top the LV=CC Division One table. Notts will know that a victory will take them a significant step closer to reaching their target of third, but Yorkshire are not to be taken lightly.

With second-placed Sussex not involved with this time, Middlesex will be looking to leap frog them with victory at rock-bottom Derbyshire. The home side will need to put together a series of victories to escape relegation, and are running out of time to do so. 

Warwickshire host Somerset, who still have one eye over their shoulder at the relegation zone, while Surrey, also battling the trap door into Division Two, travel to fourth-placed Durham, whose title ambitions are still alive.


The Challenger - Alex Picker

Throughout the summer, Beat The Duke has seen Roger face off against the finest names in Nottinghamshire cricket, both past and present. Heroes, characters and figures close to the club’s heart have been asked for predictions, and no one encapsulates this notion more than Alex Picker.

Twelfth man for the Weekend of Legends match between England and Australia, handler of charity requests and booker of inflatables, Picker was an ever-present face at Trent Bridge for 15 years, before leaving in 2010.

Now working on the South Coast for a ‘major financial services provider’, Alex has been following events at Trent Bridge from afar and is better placed than most to offer his predictions this week.


The Challenger's Predictions

Derbyshire v Middlesex

Despite being rock bottom of the Championship, I think Derbyshire may put up a fight here although Middlesex will be secretly hoping that Steve Finn is omitted from the Test team at the Oval so he can make the trip up the M1 to spearhead their bowling attack. Draw.

Warwickshire v Somerset

Both teams have had their fair share of draws this season, including the opener at Taunton where Warwickshire only just hung on for the draw. This time round, I think Warwickshire will want the win slightly more to push for a second successive County Championship, which is far from out of their reach. Somerset, on the other hand, are in a precarious position and I don't think they will have a prosperous trip to the Midlands. Home win.

Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire

It's been five years since we beat the Yorkies at Trent Bridge but I sense we may turn over the leaders this week in what I suspect may be a relatively high scoring affair - I predict four first-innings centuries but think we'll come out on top.

Durham v Surrey 

Surrey have been the draw specialists of 2013 and have paid the price as they languish in 8th place in the table. However, I think their Twenty20 experience on Saturday (despite their capitulation in the Final) will possibly have given them the impetus to go and get that first win under their belts in the Championship and possibly lead a late charge to safety. Surrey to triumph in the North East.


The Duke's Predictions

Derbyshire v Middlesex

It’ll be a Middlesex win. Even though Derbyshire won their last match, Middlesex will be too strong for them. It’s likely that they’ll be without Steven Finn, though he could be back and play if he’s not with England, but you’d think that even without him, the visitors will be far too strong.

Warwickshire v Somerset

Somerset are coming into a bit of form, but as it’s at Edgbaston I’ll go for a high scoring draw. They tend to prepare pitches that mean they can grind out a big score and if Nick Compton and co. turns up and really want to play; it’ll be a case of twenty wickets being hard to find.

Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire

I never like to go against my own side, and this isn’t going to be any different. We’re missing James Taylor through England Lions duties, but they’re missing Gary Ballance. This could end up being a battle of the bowlers, and it’s a battle Notts will win.

Durham v Surrey 

Durham to win for me, without a doubt. The ball will nip around a bit, and even without Graham Onions home advantage will play its part. It won’t be high scoring, but there will be a result. 


Last Round

Last time around, The Duke, facing off against former club secretary Bryan Robson, scored 1 out of 3, as did the challenger.


League Standings

After 13 rounds, the score is Duke 17-12 Challengers.

The Duke’s Average – 1.33