Former England pace spearhead Darren Gough is backing Yorkshire to win a third consecutive County Championship Division One title later this summer, but expects them to be be pushed hard by their rivals.
Yorkshire have drawn their first three three games this season and are currently in sixth position with 33 points.
Lancashire and Surrey have been promoted to Division One in 2016 and Gough is expecting nothing less than a fantastic season.
“The county cricket season has started and for me it is still the most important,” Gough told Unibet.
“We all love a little bit of slogging in 50-over and T20 cricket.
“But the County Championship (is most important).
“Yorkshire are going for three in a row, Lancashire and Surrey are back in Division One.
“It is all set for a fantastic season.”
The Division One points table is currently led by Nottinghamshire with Warwickshire and Middlesex following in second and third respectively.
Essex are unbeaten in Division Two and with two wins from four games, they are at the top of the table with Leicestershire in second place and Kent in third.
Backing Yorkshire to win their third County Championship title in a row, Gough has picked Essex to take the honours in Division Two.
“Let us look at Division One.
“(Can) Yorkshire (make it) three in a row? Can it happen?
“I think so, but they are going to be pushed by Surrey, Lancashire, Hampshire, Notts (Nottinghamshire) and Warwickshire look fantastic with Ian Bell at the top.
“(In) Division Two, my other club (is) Essex.
“(They) recruited well in the winter months and (they have) a fantastic side.
“Sussex will push them though.”
Northamptonshire’s Ben Duckett is among the top scorers in Division Two with 400 runs from three games including a career-best unbeaten 282 against Sussex.
Apart from Duckett, Gough is backing the Surrey duo of Sam and Tom Curran and Essex’s Dan Lawrence to be among the top run-scorers this season.
“Some young players (are) getting runs out there in county cricket.
“Ben Duckett for Northants (has scored) a fantastic 280 in the first game.
“Let’s look at Sam Curran and Tom Curran from Surrey.
“I think Tom is the closest one to selection; Sam is going to push stronger in later years.
“Those three really are the standouts.
“Dan Lawrence in Essex though, he’s got a chance.”
England skipper Alastair Cook has scored 523 runs from four matches for Essex including three centuries and a fifty and he is currently the highest run-getter across both divisions.
With a busy Test season set to begin with the series against Sri Lanka, Gough reasoned that Cook’s prolific form will stand England in good stead.
“Alastair Cook, (the) England captain has started the season brilliantly.
“From the first two games, he got two centuries and I thought he was going to do it again in the next game but he got dismissed in the 60s.
“It is fantastic to see; he is in great touch going into the Test series because we need him to get runs if England are going to be successful.”
Sri Lanka’s tour of England will get underway with the first Test match in Leeds on 19th May with the hosts looking to regain the trophy they lost in 2014.
© Cricket World 2016