Captain: James Tredwell
Overseas player: Brendan Nash
In: Calum Haggett (2nd XI)
Out: Simon Cook, Azhar Mahmood (both released)
Kent were nearly men in 2012. They nearly got promoted from Division Two of the LV= County Championship and almost made it to the semi-finals of the 40-over competition. 2013 is unlikely to be much different as they again reply on a clutch of young players and have one of the smaller squads on the county circuit. James Tredwell is the new captain following Rob Key’s resignation, but the rest of the squad is almost identical to that of 2012. If the young players have good seasons then promotion and 40-over silverware is a real possibility, but if they don’t them mid-table mediocrity beckons.
Predictions - CCD2: 3rd (3rd in Div Two), YB40: Group stage (3rd in Group C)
Main man: Rob Key will hope that, unshackled from the chains of captaincy, he will rediscover his best batting form. Last year, he scored less than 800 runs in the Championship and will be aiming for well over 1000 this season. He will also provide a valuable sounding board for new skipper James Tredwell.
Young player to watch: Take your pick; Kent have plenty. From the established names such as Matt Coles, Sam Northeast and Adam Ball to the less well-known Fabian Cowdrey and Ivan Thomas. However, Daniel Bell-Drummond could trump them all and will vie with Northeast to partner Key at the top of the order in the Championship.
Batsmen: Rob Key (RHB/OB), Daniel Bell-Drummond (RHB/RMF), Sam Northeast (RHB/OB), Alex Blake (LHB/RMF), Brendan Nash (LHB/LM), Mike Powell (RHB/OB), Chris Piesley (LHB/OB).
All-Rounders: Adam Ball (RHB/LMF), Fabian Cowdrey (RHB/SLA), James Tredwell (LHB/OB), Calum Haggett (LHB/RM), Ben Harmison (LHB/RMF), Darren Stevens (RHB/RM).
Wicket-keepers: Geraint Jones (RHB), Sam Billings (RHB).
Bowlers: Matt Coles (LHB/RFM), Mark Davies (RHB/RMF), Ben Kemp (RHB/RFM), Ashley Shaw (RHB/LFM), Charlie Shreck (RHB/RFM), Ivan Thomas (RHB/RMF), Adam Riley (RHB/OB).
Captain: Glen Chapple
Overseas player: Simon Katich
In: Simon Katich, Kabir Ali (both Hampshire), Luis Reece, Alex Davies, Gavin Griffiths, Arron Lilley (all youth), Wayne White (Leicestershire)
Out: Naqaash Tahir (released), Sajid Mahmood (Essex), Gary Keedy (Surrey), Ajmal Shahzad (Nottinghamshire)
Lancashire’s last two seasons have been a rollercoaster, with unexpected Championship success in 2011 followed by unexpected relegation last season. They will hope that the rollercoaster can continue with immediate promotion in 2013. Anything less will be considered a failure for a talented squad that has recruited well. The Yorkshire Bank 40 also offers real hope of silverware following their semi-final appearance last time around.
Predictions - CCD2: 2nd (8th in Div One), YB40: Semi-Finalists (Semi-Finalists)
Main man: Glen Chapple will once again be called upon to lead the bowling attack and, following the retirements of county stalwarts such as Robert Croft and Mark Ramprakash last year, is the last of a golden era of county players. Last season he took 46 first-class wickets for the county - the next best seamer could manage only 28.
Young player to watch: Wicket-keeper Gareth Cross struggled for runs for large parts of 2012, meaning that new signing Alex Davies has a real chance of breaking into the first-team. He made his first-team debut back in 2011 as a 17 year-old so is clearly highly rated at Old Trafford.
Batsmen: Paul Horton (RHB/RM), Stephen Moore (RHB/RM), Simon Katich (LHB/SLC), Andre Agathangelou (RHB/LB), Karl Brown (RHB/RM), Steven Croft (RHB/RM or OB), Ashwell Prince (LHB).
All-Rounders: Luis Reece (LHB/LM), Wayne White (RHB/RMF), Luke Procter (LHB/RMF), Tom Smith (LHB/RM).
Wicket-keepers: Alex Davies (RHB), Jordan Clark (RHB), Gareth Cross (RHB).
Bowlers: Kabir Ali (RHB/RFM), James Anderson (LHB/RFM), Gavin Griffiths (RHB/RFM), Glen Chapple (RHB/RFM), Tom Bailey (RHB/RFM), Oliver Newby (RHB/RFM), Arron Lilley (RHB/OB), Simon Kerrigan (RHB/SLA), Stephen Parry (RHB/SLA).
Captain: Ramnaresh Sarwan (first-class cricket), Josh Cobb (one-day cricket)
Overseas players: Ramnaresh Sarwan (start and end of season), Joe Burns (remainder)
In: Joe Burns (overseas), Anthony Ireland (Middlesex/Gloucestershire), Robbie Williams (Middlesex), Tom Wells, Angus Robson, Ollie Freckingham (all youth), Niall O’Brien (Northamptonshire)
Out: Jacques du Toit, Nadeem Malik, Robbie Joseph (all released), Will Jones, Paul Dixey, Will Jefferson (all retired), Wayne White (Leicestershire)
Leicestershire have a strong overseas line-up but little else to brag about. They have lost important players in Wayne White, Will Jefferson and Will Jones, but, besides Niall O’Brien, have recruited no big name replacements. Matthew Hoggard is entering what is likely to be his final year in professional cricket, meaning that much will depend on Nathan Buck to lead an inexperienced seam attack. Much is needed from youngsters Shiv Thakor, Rob Taylor, Jigar Naik and Greg Smith, who are likely to form the backbone of Leicestershire sides for seasons to come.
Predictions - CCD2: 9th (7th in Div Two), YB40: Group stage (6th in Group A)
Main man: Overseas players Ramnaresh Sarwan and Joe Burns will be vital if Leicestershire are to consistently post totals that will give their threadbare bowling attack something to bowl at. Last year Sarwan was superb and his lack of availability due to West Indies commitments is a real blow. Fortunately, the club have unearthed one of Australia’s brightest batting talents in Queensland’s Burns as his stand-in.
Young player to watch: Off-spinner Jigar Naik was sidelined by injury for large parts of last year, but with Claude Henderson - the traditional cornerstone of the Leicestershire bowling attack - not getting any younger he could have a hugely increased role to play in 2013, especially in Championship cricket.
Batsmen: Matt Boyce (LHB/RM), Michael Thornely (RHB/RM), Shiv Thakor (RHB/RM), Ramnaresh Sarwan (RHB/LB), Josh Cobb (RHB/LB), Joe Burns (RHB/RM), Angus Robson, Greg Smith (RHB/LB).
All-Rounders: Tom Wells (RHB/RMF), Rob Taylor (LHB/LM).
Wicket-keepers: Niall O’Brien (LHB), Ned Eckersley (RHB).
Bowlers: Robbie Williams (RHB/RMF), Matthew Hoggard (RHB/RMF), Anthony Ireland (RHB/RMF), Nathan Buck (RHB/RMF), Ollie Freckingham (RHB/RMF), Alex Wyatt (RHB/RMF), James Sykes (LHB/SLA), Claude Henderson (RHB/SLA), Jigar Naik (RHB/OB).
by Daniel Grummitt
© Cricket World 2013