Cricket World looks ahead to the County Championship which begins tomorrow and predicts how each county will fare in 2012.
Yorkshire ought not really to be in Division Two, not if you listen to their chairman Colin Graves anyway, and nothing less than immediate promotion will satisfy their passionate supporters. Less fancied teams such as Kent and Derbyshire should push them all the way though.
Captain: Wayne Madsen
Overseas Players: Martin Guptill (first half), Usman Khawaja (second half)
In: Matt Lineker, Peter Burgoyne (both youth), David Wainwright (Yorkshire), Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (Sussex)
Out: Steffan Jones, Luke Sutton (both retired), Greg Smith (Essex),
Main man: Hard to see past Wayne Madsen, who must take charge of the side after the retirement of Luke Sutton and occupy a key place in the batting line-up – most probably in the middle order.
Player to watch: After his move from Yorkshire where he was deprived of first-team opportunities by Adil Rashid and Azeem Rafiq, expect David Wainwright to revel in his new-found responsibility. His lower-order batting is also more than handy too, although expect fellow slow left-armer Tom Knight to keep him on his toes.
Prediction: Usually rooted to the bottom of Division Two with the likes of Leicestershire, this season could be different if the likes of Mark Footitt and Jonathan Clare can build on the promise shown last season, 4th.
Captain: James Foster
Overseas Player: Alviro Petersen (until mid-June)
In: Tom Craddock (signed after trial in 2011), Greg Smith (Derbyshire), Ben Foakes (youth), Charl Willoughby (Somerset), Alviro Petersen (South Africa, Glamorgan), Peter Siddle (Australia)
Out: Chris Wright (Warwickshire), Max Osborne (released), Lonwabo Tsotsobe (South Africa)
Main man: David Masters is always at the top of the wickets list come the end of the summer and nothing is expected to change in 2012. His nagging brand of brisk medium-pace is tailor made for county cricket.
Player to watch: It is hard to overlook the claims of Reece Topley once he returns from England Under-19 duty. He proved the revelation of the early part of 2011 and has now given up on his A-Levels in order to concentrate on what should be an international cricket career.
Prediction: 6th for the Eagles due to a seam bowing attack that relies on the apparently ageless duo of David Masters and Charl Willoughby. Their batting looks quite strong, especially following the signings of Alviro Petersen and Greg Smith, but they are another side that looks more suited to the limited-overs arena.
Captain: Mark Wallace
Overseas Players: Moises Henriques (first five weeks), Marcus North (rest of season)
In: Simon Jones (Hampshire, limited-overs matches only), Marcus North, Moises Henriques (both Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia, from July, first-class matches only)
Out: Alviro Petersen (Essex, South Africa), Mike Powell (Kent), Adam Shantry, David Harrison, David Brown (all retired)
Main man: Dean Cosker has been a solid performer in recent seasons and has steadily edged out Robert Croft as the lead spinner. His slow left-arm spin is second perhaps only to Gary Keedy of spinners of his ilk not to have played for England.
Player to watch: Ben Wright always seems to score runs when the going gets tough for Glamorgan. If he can transfer those 50s scored in tricky situations into hundreds, then he may be one of the names of 2012.
Prediction: The Welsh county are another that has struggled in these financially awkward times and they rely heavily on several young players who may not fire. The likes of Ben Wright, Will Owen and Will Bragg are undoubtedly talented but they may need another season or two to develop – 8th.
Captain: Alex Gidman
Overseas Player: Kane Williamson (first half, not April)
In: Dan Housego (Middlesex), Paul Muchall (Durham)
Out: Jon Lewis (Surrey), Vikram Banerjee, Chris Taylor (both released), Kevin O’Brien (Ireland)
Main man: Alex Gidman is about the only experienced player left at Gloucestershire and will have to lead both the team and the young batting line-up as they find their feet in first-class cricket.
Player to watch: I was tempted to go for Chris Dent, but the signing of Dan Housego could well prove to be as inspired as Will Gidman’s was last season.
Prediction: Gloucestershire’s budget cutting has meant they have lost two or three big names over the winter, but the signing of Housego and the excellent pre-season form of Dent bodes well for a mid-table finish – 7th.
Captain: Jimmy Adams
Overseas Player: Simon Katich
In: Simon Katich (Australia), Sean Terry
Out: Michael Lumb (Nottinghamshire), Dominic Cork (retired), Nic Pothas, Johann Myburgh, Friedel de Wet, Jamie Miller, Benny Howell (all released), Simon Jones (Glamorgan), Imran Tahir (South Africa)
Main man: Jimmy Adams is another who will have to lead from the front both on and off the field and the left-hander should be a shoo-in for well over 1000 Championship runs. Simon Katich, along with some others in the batting line-up, could make it a golden summer for batsman at The Rose Bowl in 2012.
Player to watch: David Balcombe’s successful loan spell at Kent last year ought to see him get a go in the starting eleven this year. He will be hoping to repeat the form that made Kent want to sign him on a full-time deal for 2012.
Prediction: Hampshire’s squad is probably too small to predict promotion, but their batting, in particular, looks strong so expect them to be pushing all the way but in the end fall short – 5th.
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