Lancy...can they repeat last year's heroics?
In Division One, last year's champions Lancashire are surprisingly only third favourites (11/2) behind Durham and Somerset. In what could be one of the most open County Championships for years, the bookies prices reflect this with Durham and the Cidermen at 9/2, then come Lancashire with Notts and Warwickshire at 13/2, followed by Surrey and Sussex at 8 and 9 to 1, respectively. The favourites to go down are Middlesex and Worcestershire.
A lot will depend on the weather, and interestingly in wet summers, a team from the eastern side of the country tends to win, as Lancashire and Somerset lose more day's play than the others. We are going to plump for Nottinghamshire this year, and new signing James Taylor will be a major force to be reckoned with.
If you a fancy a flutter on the leading batsman, then stick your mortgage on Marcus Trescothick to make hay on Taunton's featherbed. Chris Rogers at Middlesex is second in the running, but good value outside bets include Alex Hales (20/1), Joe Denly who is hoping to resurrect his England career after his high profile move to Middlesex at 20's, and The Middle Stump's ladies man, Tom Maynard at 33's, who will find the good batting tracks of the Oval, more fruitful than the Cardiff nightclubs!
Panesar...the Prince of Parsimony!
In the bowling department, the miserly Monty leads the way at 6/1, not great value even if the parsimonious, penurious Panesar will bowl more maidens than anyone else. Behind him comes another left arm spinner, Lancashire's Gary Keedy, who will pick up plenty on the bunsens in the North West, but we believe Middlesex's Tim Murtagh at 18's will continue last season's form, where he spearheaded the North London boys to promotion. Watch out also for skiddy quick, Stuart Meaker at Surrey - he's rapid!
In Division Two, Hampshire are the bookies favourites followed closely by Yorkshire. Essex follow them at 11/2, followed by the team who finished last season like Devon Loch, Northants. Our outside tip for the title, on an each way bet is Glamorgan, seeing as we have so many new friends on Twitter from over the Severn Bridge, and the inspired signing of Australian Michael Hogan, albeit after the T20, will give them the impetus they need to go up. Derbyshire and Leicestershire are the favourites to finish bottom.
Leading batsmen in this division, are Katich and Carberry at Hampshire, our interviewee at The Middle Stump, Gareth Rees and Stephen Peters at Northants. However, we are going to plump for Phil Jaques or Andrew Gale at Yorkshire, who will both have a good season on improved wickets at Headingley.
On the bowling front, Chaminda Vaas and David Masters are at 7/1, as is Ryan Sidebottom, but Charl Willoughby represents good value at 12's as does Glamorgan pairing Dean Cosker, and the up and coming James Harris at 20 and 16's.
On to the one day stuff now, or List A as it is now referred to, and in the CB40 we are going to agree with the bookies and plump for Somerset. Essex and Surrey are also in the running, whilst The Unicorns are representing particularly poor value at only 150/1 with Coral and William Hill, as are Scotland. The Turf Accountants are as tight as a John Emburey one day over in the late 80's here, when he would fire darts at leg stump!
In the T20 Somerset and Surrey again lead the way with the bookies, but Leicestershire can never be discounted in this form of the game. I am going to stick my neck on the line and go for Middlesex at a huge 25's, with Eoin Morgan and Gareth Berg being the main men, but then I'm a Middlesex fan.
A lot of the above will depend on whether England continue with their present side, but why not let us know what your views are by following us on Twitter - @TheMiddleStump.
However, if you have spunked your dough by September and you can't pay the wife's credit card bill off, please don't come crying to us!