Friday, 13 April 2018

County Championship Div 1 preview

So after yesterday's Division Two, we now come to the big boys. This is the top standard of English cricket, the creme de la menthe as Del Boy would say. So many questions and permutations with a league that is tighter than Phil Tufnell at the bar. So therefore, you know what to do. Re-mortgage your property and take this guide as gospel, visit your local turf accountant on the basis of what is written below and come September, you'll be thanking me. Erm, hopefully....

Champo to Chelmsford?
Essex - will they win it again? Probably not. Mohammed Amir got them over the line on a few occasions last year and he is replaced by Peter Siddle and Neil Wagner. Essex may not see much of Cook either who held their top order together at times. I'm not saying they will go down but then again, I didn't think the previous champions Middlesex would either. No Chelmsford Champo this year but neither misery in Manningtree. Porter and Harmer could be key. Prediction 5th

Hampshire - whisper this quietly but they have a chance here. Northeast has headed south west from Canterbury and Hashim Amla should be a quality overseas signing. Dale Steyn is popping in to Southampton too, so it seems that a Test playing ground has plenty of ECB cash to spend. I don't think the Solent lads have the depth to win it but they will be there or thereabouts. Expect the southern most county to be towards the northern end of the table. Prediction: 2nd

Lancashire - crack open the Boddingtons because it is going to be celebration time in Mancunia come September. If the weather holds off. If Graham Onions can be a huge success. If Keaton Jennings scores runs. If my Auntie had balls, she'd be my uncle. England will look at Liam Livingstone, I presume and maybe Haseeb Hameed. Look strong on paper but cricket is played on grass. And in this part of the world the grass is wetter than most meaning no play. If the weather is kind, the Premier League and the County Championship trophies will end up in Manchester. If not, then Heaven knows they could be miserable, now. Prediction; 1st

Livingstone...a title, I presume?

Nottinghamshire - like the Brian Clough team of 78, when the county cricketers get promoted they normally win the title straight away. I don't think they will though, Peter Moores is no Peter Taylor. Chris Read is now absent but they may well see more of Jake Ball this summer. Lumb and Hales have been replaced by Chris Nash and Ross Taylor. Samit will slam it, in the middle order and they will do ok. Prediction: 6th

Somerset - sadly I see a season of struggle for the Cidermen. Last year was a huge disappointment although they stayed up by the skin of their teeth. Jack Leach might not be around much but Dom Bess is an excellent spinner. Is an offie as dangerous as a left arm around though? Cameron Bancroft won't be taking his summer holidays at Sand Bay near Weston Super Mare and I wonder where the runs will come from? Managerial and coaching changes a plenty and this could well be the last season in the top flight for the longest serving county at the Division One table. Prediction: 8th

Surrey - they will do well by virtue of gaining batting points a plenty at the Oval but Surrey need to find someone who will take wickets consistently. Unfortunately a Martin Bicknell or a Robin Jackman doesn't grow on the famous Kennington money tree too often but Morne Morkel could well be a handful. With Mr Burns as the boss in SE11, even without Sanga's runs, it won't be a problem. It's taking twenty wickets that may be the Doh! Prediction: 4th

A youthful Jack Brooks...wicket machine

Worcestershire - Tongue, Ali, Head, Pear. This may sound like a 70's porn film but this is the mainstay of Worcestershire's side this year. I think Mo might be having an England break and he will help the Pears cause. Kevin Sharp will be an excellent coach but do they have enough depth? A lot depends on Joe Clarke and Daryl Mitchell at the top of the order. A damp new road pitch may well suit wicket machine Steve Magoffin too. They probably will go down but it's no certainty. They may well pip Notts to 6th. Prediction: 7th

Yorkshire - I've seen a lot of people writing off Yorkshire, which is madness considering Yorkshiremen never write off anything (especially debt). World's gone mad, as they say. Lees and Lyth are quality players, "Steve" Pujara, Kane Williamson and Gary Ballance are a top line up at this level and Jack Brooks is always up there amongst the leading wicket takers. They are still the biggest county with the biggest pedigree. Ok Rashid might be white ball only and Willey and Plunkett are India bound, Sidebottom will be a loss too. If they can take wickets, the White Rose will be challenging for their 32nd title. Prediction: 3rd

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