2013 County Cricket Preview - Part Two
Captain: Chris Rogers (first-class cricket), Neil Dexter (one-day cricket)
Overseas player: Chris Rogers
In: Nick Gubbins (youth), James Harris (Glamorgan)
Out: Scott Newman, Tom Scollay (both released), Steven Crook (Northamptonshire), Anthony Ireland, Robbie Williams (both Leicestershire), Andrew Strauss (retired)
Middlesex had a solid 2012 and go into 2013 as serious title contenders. They will be few people’s favourites, but could spring a surprise - the recruitment of James Harris will complete a very strong seam-bowling attack, which includes Toby Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh. Left-arm spinner Ravi Patel is also expected to play a more prominent role and should help plug weakness in the spin department.
Predictions - CCD1: Winners (3rd in Div One), YB40: Group stage (2nd in Group A)
Main man: Joe Denly had a fairly mediocre 2012 by his very high standards and is one of several players that Middlesex will need to step up if they are to seriously challenge for the title. He, Neil Dexter, Sam Robson and Chris Rogers will all need to reach around the 1000-run mark if Middlesex are to be crowned County Champions for the first time since 1993.
Young player to watch: 21 year-old left-arm spinner Ravi Patel strung together three good performances at the end of the 2013 season, taking 14 wickets in three Championship matches. He could well fill the spin void that has held Middlesex back in past campaigns.
Batsmen: Chris Rogers (LHB/LBG), Joe Denly (RHB/LB), Paul Stirling (RHB/OB), Sam Robson (RHB/LB), Nick Gubbins (LHB/LB), Adam London (LHB/OB), Andrew Balbirnie (RHB/OB), Dawid Malan (LHB/LB), Eoin Morgan (LHB/RM).
All-Rounders: Josh Davey (RHB/RMF), Neil Dexter (RHB/RM), Gareth Berg (RHB/RMF), James Harris (RHB/RFM), Ollie Wilkin (RHB/RM), Ollie Rayner (RHB/OB).
Wicket-keepers: Adam Rossington (RHB), John Simpson (LHB).
Bowlers: Toby Roland-Jones (RHB/RMF), Corey Collymore (RHB/RFM), Steven Finn (RHB/RFM), Tim Murtagh (LHB/RMF), Gurjit Sandhu (RHB/LMF), Tom Smith (RHB/SLA), Ravi Patel (RHB/SLA).
Captain: Stephen Peters (first-class cricket), Alex Wakely (one-day cricket)
Overseas player: Trent Copeland (until 8th June)
In: Christian Davis, James Kettleborough, Ben Duckett, Rob Keogh (all youth), Matthew Spriegel (Surrey), Steven Crook (Middlesex), Trent Copeland (overseas), Azharullah (Pakistan)
Out: Ben Howgego, Chaminda Vaas, David Burton, Rob White (all released), Niall O’Brien (Leicestershire), Jack Brooks (Yorkshire)
Northamptonshire could be the dark horses of Division Two in 2013. They have made shrewd signings in the forms of Matthew Spriegel, Trent Copeland and Steven Crook, while Olly Stone and Ben Duckett of the youngsters look particularly promising. Their real weakness is the threadbare seam-attack, especially after Copeland’s departure, with the signing of Azharullah a real unknown.
Predictions - CCD2: 6th (8th in Div Two), YB40: Group stage (6th in Group C)
Main man: Trent Copeland should revel in early-season English conditions. He is in excellent form, having come off the back of a Sheffield Shield campaign for New South Wales where he averaged 34.73 with the bat and 26.87 with the ball. He will also have the added incentive of knowing that a stellar couple of months could see his name mentioned in the same sentence as the words Ashes squad.
Young player to watch: The departures of Jack Brooks, David Burton and Chaminda Vaas have left a few holes in the pace attack. Northamptonshire will be hoping that 19 year-old Olly Stone can step up. Stone excelled for England Under-19s this winter, the pinnacle being his 11 wickets in the second Youth Test match.
Batsmen: Stephen Peters (RHB), Christian Davis (RHB/LMF), James Kettleborough, Alex Wakely (RHB/RM), Kyle Coetzer (RHB/RM), David Sales (RHB/RM), Rob Newton (RHB/LB).
All-Rounders: Matthew Spriegel (LHB/OB), Rob Keogh (RHB/OB), Andrew Hall (RHB/RFM), Con de Lange (RHB/SLA), Steven Crook (RHB/RFM), James Middlebrook (RHB/OB), David Willey (LHB/LFM).
Wicket-keepers: David Murphy (RHB), Ben Duckett (LHB).
Bowlers: Luke Evans (RHB/RMF), Olly Stone (RHB/RFM), Trent Copeland (RHB/RFM), Azharullah (RHB/RFM), Lee Daggett (RHB/RM), Sam Sweeney (RHB/RM).
Captain: Chris Read
Overseas players: Ed Cowan (until June), David Hussey (June until August)
In: Ed Cowan, David Hussey (both overseas), Ajmal Shahzad (Yorkshire/Lancashire)
Out: Darren Pattinson (Australia), Scott Elstone, Karl Turner, Neil Edwards (all released), Adam Voges (overseas)
Nottinghamshire always start the season as title contenders and the signing of Ajmal Shahzad should prove inspired. He will help bolster a seam attack that has begun to rely too heavily on Andre Adams. In truth, any one of five of six counties could win the title, but Nottinghamshire’s batting last season was poor and they haven’t strengthened that area. Therefore a much improved performance from James Taylor and Samit Patel is required, but even that could backfire with England call-ups.
Predictions - CCD1: 5th (5th in Div One), YB40: Group stage (4th in Group B)
Main man: James Taylor averaged comfortably less than 40 in the Championship in 2012 and will want to prove his doubters - the England selectors seemingly among them following his non-inclusion in this summer’s Performance squad - wrong. He led the England Lions on their disastrous tour of Australia this winter, but excelled personally, finishing top of the batting averages.
Young player to watch: Batting all-rounder Sam Wood is tipped by many to break into the first-team this coming season. He played in Nottinghamshire’s final Championship match in 2012 and impressed, hitting 45 in the first innings and taking three wickets in Surrey’s second innings.
Batsmen: Alex Hales (RHB/RM), Ed Cowan (LHB/LB), Sam Kelsall (RHB/RM), Michael Lumb (LHB/RM), David Hussey (RHB/OB), James Taylor (RHB/LB).
All-Rounders: Samit Patel (RHB/SLA), Steven Mullaney (RHB/RM), Paul Franks (LHB/RFM), Sam Wood (LHB/OB).
Wicket-keepers: Chris Read (RHB), Riki Wessels (RHB).
Bowlers: Andy Carter (RHB/RFM), Ben Phillips (RHB/RFM), Ajmal Shahzad (RHB/RFM), Andre Adams (RHB/RFM), Jake Ball (RHB/RMF), Stuart Broad (LHB/RFM), Luke Fletcher (RHB/RMF), Harry Gurney (RHB/LFM), Brett Hutton (RHB/RMF), Graeme White (RHB/SLA), Graeme Swann (RHB/OB).