LV= County Championship Division One Preview
Captain: Marcus Trescothick
Overseas Player: Vernon Philander (first two months of season)
In: Vernon Philander (South Africa)
Out: Murali Kartik (Surrey), Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka), Charl Willoughby (Essex)
Main man: Look no further than last season’s PCA Most Valuable Player Marcus Trescothick. Since retiring from England duty due to ill health, the left-hander has taken over the mantle of most prolific county batsman from Mark Ramprakash and he should hit over 1500 runs again in 2012.
Player to watch: Max Waller impressed many during the Champions League and if he can displace George Dockrell from the starting eleven then he could find himself being talked of as England’s next spinner after Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.
Prediction: Somerset’s batting line-up is second to none, but their seam bowling depends heavily on Steve Kirby following the departure of Charl Willoughby. If Vernon Philander can wreak havoc in early season then who knows, but they may find themselves drawing a lot of matches – 5th.
Captain: Rory Hamilton-Brown
Overseas Players: Murali Kartik (after IPL), Jacques Rudolph (during IPL)
In: Jon Lewis (Gloucestershire), Murali Kartik (Somerset), Jacques Rudolph (South Africa)
Out: Yasir Arafat (Pakistan), Chris Schofield, Simon King (both released), Michael Brown (retired), Pragyan Ojha (India)
Main man: When he arrives, Murali Kartik could prove as influential as Pragyan Ojha did at the back end of last season for the Lions. As Australia discovered during the 2009 Ashes series, spin and The Oval can, on occasion, combine to produce deadly consequences for batsman.
Player to watch: Matthew Dunn has been on the fringes of the Surrey eleven for some time now, and he is rated highly by many within the game. If Jade Dernbach and Stuart Meaker are called away on England duty in midsummer, then it could be his window of opportunity.
Prediction: Surrey are the dark horses of Division One, and, in my opinion an outside bet for the title. Jon Lewis will be key as the head of the bowling attack – 3rd.
Captain: Michael Yardy
Overseas Players: Steve Magoffin (until FLt20)
In: Scott Styris (Essex), Steve Magoffin (Australia), Matt Machan (youth)
Out: Lou Vincent (released), Ollie Rayner (Middlesex), Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (Derbyshire), Wayne Parnell (South Africa)
Main man: Murray Goodwin is about the only big name left from Sussex’s Championship winning team of the last decade. The club will hope that he has at least one more season of prolific run scoring in him before age finally takes its toll.
Player to watch: Ben Brown is another wicket-keeper in the mould of John Simpson, whereby a strong 2012 could well be the beginning of his path to eventual international recognition. He has already replaced Andrew Hodd as Sussex’s main gloveman after Matt Prior.
Prediction: Sussex are a close-knit squad who tend to do better in the shorter forms of the game. They do appear to have weaknesses with their middle-order and seam bowling, despite the handy recruitment of Steve Magoffin in the recent past – 8th.
Captain: Jim Troughton
Overseas Player: Jeetan Patel (New Zealand)
In: Chris Wright (Essex), Recardo Gordon (youth)
Out: Mohammad Yousuf (Pakistan), Shiv Chanderpaul (West Indies), Naqaash Tahir (Lancashire), Ant Botha (retired), Maurice Holmes (released)
Main man: Rikki Clarke is the cornerstone of Warwickshire’s Championship challenge and his importance to the side has only increased following the news that Chris Woakes will miss the first two months of the season. On his day, he is a world class all-rounder. If only he could find consistency then England may yet come calling – stranger things have happened!
Player to watch: Keith Barker is odds on to fill the number eight spot in the Bears line-up as his competent lower-order batting and brisk seam bowling will provide an almost like-for-like replacement for Woakes.
Prediction: It may surprise many to see last year’s nearly-men predicted to finish so low, and I will probably be proved to be wide of the mark, but their batting looks a little fragile, especially after they chose a bowler to fill the overseas spot. The loss of Chris Woakes early in the season is also a big blow – 6th.
Captain: Daryl Mitchell
Overseas Players: Phil Hughes (second half), Michael Klinger (first half)
In: Ben Scott (Middlesex), David Lucas (Northamptonshire), Brett D’Oliveira, Nick Harrison (both youth), Michael Klinger, Phil Hughes (both Australia)
Out: Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh), Kemar Roach (West Indies), Matt Mason (retired), Chris Whelan, David Wheeldon (both released)
Main man: The overseas pair of Klinger and Hughes will prove vital in how Worcestershire fare this season. They have struggled at the top of the order in recent times and must hope that these two can provide a steady stream of runs.
Player to watch: Aneesh Kapil is a much talked about all-rounder and will miss the first part of the year due to England Under-19 duty. However, when he returns, expect him to slot into the lower middle-order and pose a threat with both bat and ball.
Prediction: Surprised many last year by surviving the drop and, once again, they are the obvious wooden-spoonists. The bowling attack relies heavily on Alan Richardson and they lack a top-class specialist spinner – 9th.
© Cricket World 2012