The English domestic county cricket season is soon here, with the county championships dominating the summer as the build up to the 2019 home Ashes continues – notwithstanding the small matter of the World Cup also this year.
But the focus here is on the 4 day game, as Surrey (below) look to defend their position of English champions, after a run away success in 2018.
Teams : Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey, Warwickshire, Yorkshire
Defending Champions : Surrey
Promoted from Division 2 last season : Kent, Warwickshire
The cricket top domestic flight this season looks exceptionally strong and competitive, with all teams having something to point to indicating they have a chance of winning the division. Kent look to have the toughest task of all – promoted behind Warwickshire from Division 2 last season, much will rest on the form and captaincy of Sam Billings – but they could be propping up the rest come the end of the season. Defending champions Surrey will again have Rory Burns leading them and have a deep strong squad that can cover the absences of their England international contingent when called up. Key overseas signings Morne Morkel and Aaron Finch will only strengthen Surrey’s claim to defend. Their stiffest challenge could come from Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire…both had disappointing 2018 campaigns and will want to come on again from their respective 4th and 6th place finishes. Somerset will be hoping their runners up spot last year was no fluke, whilst at Essex all eyes will be on retired former England cricket captain Alistair Cook, who could well claim the top run scorer title. Hampshire remain talented but inconsistent…it will be very interesting to see how James Vince fairs with his place with England on a knife edge.
Top Three Prediction : 1st Surrey 2nd Yorkshire 3rd Somerset
Relegated : Kent & Hampshire
Teams : Derbyshire, Durham, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Lancashire, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Sussex, Worcestershire
Relegated from Division One last season : Lancashire, Worcestershire
It was quite the surprise when Lancashire got relegated from the top flight last season, albeit on a tiebreaker with Notts and only 11 points behind Hampshire in fifth place. So they are strongly fancied to make a swift return to the top table of English cricket, whilst fellow relegated team Worcestershire may find the going a bit harder. Lancashire’s main challengers for the title could come from Sussex, who have the fantastic cricket talent that is Jofra Archer on their books, who despite his tender years is being touted for an England World Cup squad place and he will be keen to give the selectors every nudge possibly. Middlesex should be competitive and there abouts also, whilst you feel Durham and Glamorgan have to be better than their dismal 2018 showing. The rest seem to be at their level here and whilst they will have their moments, it looks unlikely they have the strength or depth to mount a serious challenge or compete in the 4 day game with their more illustrious opponents.
Top Three Prediction : 1st Lancashire 2nd Sussex 3rd Middlesex
Wooden Spoon : Leicestershire