CHRIS Wood is set to play his first LV County Championship match of the season when Hampshire attempt to boost their promotion hopes against in-form Kent.
The Hampshire bowler has been restricted to limited-overs matches since undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee last December.
But with David Balcombe out with a knee injury, Kyle Abbott’s Hampshire stint over and Nathan Rimmington back in Australia, Wood is expected to play his first four-day game since last September.
Wood has taken 64 wickets at 34.89 since making his Championship debut four years ago and will be part of a Hampshire attack including a fired-up Matt Coles.
The former England Lions all-rounder took 117 Championship wickets at 31.37 for Kent, as well as scoring 1095 runs at 20.27, before his winter move to The Ageas Bowl.
He starred in a T20 Blast win when he returned to the St Lawrence Ground last month, blasting a 17-ball 29 before taking 2-24, but will be playing in front of a different audience during Canterbury Cricket Week.
It will not be easy for Hampshire against a Kent side buoyed by three successive Championship wins, including victory against Surrey in their last outing, and outstanding 50-over form (they lead Group B as the only unbeaten side in the Royal London One-Day Cup).
Meanwhile, Hampshire are without a win in three Championship matches and Kent’s recent success has turned the battle for promotion into a five-horse race.
Another Kent win during would see them close the gap on Hampshire to a handful of points – with a game in hand.
Worcestershire are clear at the top but a Hampshire win at Canterbury would put further pressure on second-placed Surrey, who have played a game more.
Wood for Nathan Rimmington is expected to be the only change to the Hampshire side that lost the county’s last Championship match, by two wickets to Essex at Colchester last month.
But Basil Akram, a 21 year-old seamer signed on a development contract until the end of the season after impressing for the Second XI, is included in a 12-man squad.
Hampshire (from): Adams (c), Carberry, Smith, Dawson, Vince, Ervine, Wheater, Coles, Wood, Briggs, Tomlinson, Akram.
Kent: Key (c), Bell-Drummond, Billings (w), Bollinger, Cowdrey, Claydon, Haggett, B Harmison, Nash, Northeast, Riley, Stevens