Yes I know I said that Hampshire would win Division 1, Kent would be relegated and Essex would go up last season. However, that doesn’t stop me from having another go this season. Division 1 will follow, with the predictions in reverse order.
Finished 7th last season and with little movement in or out, it’s difficult not to see them going backwards. Marcus North and Steve Kirby look to be their main players with bat and ball and they will be looking for success in the shorter versions of the game.
Stuart Broad won’t be a huge loss to the Foxes as he is likely to spent the season with England rather than in county cricket. However, there is very little in the way of home grown talent and journeyman Kolpaks aplenty.
Another team looking to rely heavily on Kolpaks, although the ICL seems to have put paid to some of these. Another season of mediocrity beckons.
Bottom of the pile last season, but they seem to have recruited well, with Matt Wood and Jamie Dalrymple talented players looking to kickstart their careers. Add to that the emerging talent coming out of Wales then they seem to be turning the corner. Neutrals will be hoping that this is the case as they seem to be doing a lot more to develop their homegrown talent than the Kolpakshire counties of Northants and Leicester.
Relegated by quite some distance last season, regardless of the problems that the club had with the flooding of the New Road pitch. The signing of Simon Jones is interesting and all England fans will hope that it marks his rehabilitation. With Graeme Hick, Vikram Solanki and Ben Smith, they shouldn’t be short of runs, while Kabir Ali and Fidel Edwards should take wickets. Likely to be one of five teams challenging for promotion, but will come up short.
An interesting off season for Derbyshire, with Rikki Clarke and Nayan Doshi both coming from Surrey and both in the last chance saloon for their respective careers. Mahela Jayawardene should score bucketloads of runs while the underrated bowling attack of Tom Lungley and Graham Wagg will take the wickets to see them in the hunt this season.
An end of season capitulation and a resurgent Surrey saw the Bears relegated and their new recruits on the pitch don’t stir the blood as much as the off field team of Ashley Giles and Allan Donald. A season of rebuilding beckons, particularly as Tim Ambrose and Ian Bell are unlikely to be at Edgbaston much during the summer. Jon Trott and Jim Troughton will score enough runs to make them competitive. However, they will struggle to bowl teams out, even in Division 2.
Surely this has to be the season they go up. Ravi Bopara and James Foster will need big seasons to get them back into the international reckoning, while in Danesh Kaneria they have arguably the most dangerous bowler in the Division. The seam attack looks light, but the recruitment of David Masters looks shrewd.
The two teams promoted last season were two of the best seen in Division 2 for a while. Middlesex chased them all the way and should see their efforts better rewarded this season. Ed Joyce, Ed Smith and particularly Owais Shah form the best batting line up in the division, while they will also be looking for Billy Godleman to kick on after a promising first season. The pace attack is reliant on the veterans Chris Silverwood and Alan Richardson with Tim Murtagh giving support, although the highly rated Steve Finn will be looking to play a full season and could be a revelation. Murali Kartik and Shaun Udal provide the spin option and this team is far too good for Division 2.