Defending champions Lancashire the team to beat
Well, the snow has arrived just as the county season begins, but what a season we should have.
This year’s LV County Championship should be an entertaining one. Last year’s winners Lancashire will once again be tough to beat. Led by captain Glenn Chapple and coach Peter Moores – who is once again proving what a fine coach he is – the defending champions have had a good start in pre-season. Beating an MCC XI convincingly out in Abu Dhabi is a good sign.
The only question mark is whether they can get the same results at Old Trafford as they did on the bowler-friendly pitches of Blackpool and Liverpool last season while their ground was being redeveloped.
Last season’s top run-scorers Paul Horton and Stephen Moore will once again score heavily, as will overseas signing Ashwell Prince, and give top spinners Gary Keedy and Simon Kerrigan – and the reliable Chapple and Kyle Hogg – plenty to bowl at.
Pushing Lancashire will be newly promoted Surrey, a side with experience and youth. They’re a very athletic fielding side who will be pushed all the way by their determined coach Chris Adams and his assistant Ian Salisbury.
Some consider Surrey to be the Chelsea of the cricket world, a club that has gone out and built a team to win trophies. Their strong batting line-up features Jacques Rudolph, Mark Ramprakash, Zander de Bruyn, Steven Davies and skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown.
Surrey’s bowlers are also high in quality. There’s Stuart Meaker, Jade Dernbach, Jon Lewis and the young seamer Tim Linley who took the second division by storm last season. Gareth Batty rounds off their attack with experienced left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, who will arrive after the IPL.
2008 and 2009 champions Durham could mount a sneaky division one title challenge too. They’ve got gaggles of batting in the form of Michael di Venuto, Dale Benkenstein, Paul Collingwood, Ben Stokes and the consistent Ian Blackwell, who amassed 900 runs and took 36 wickets last season.
Durham’s challenge is to keep Steve Harmison on the pitch. Last season he only managed to play in six matches but if Harmison and fellow bowlers Graham Onions and Mitchell Claydan stay fit, Durham could mount a serious title challenge. Look out for their young and talented leg spinner Scott Borthwick who everyone is expecting to shine this season.
Follow Darren Gough on Twitter
To keep up with the county scene I'll be hosting a new monthly show called Goughie's LV county catch-up at ecb.co.uk/LVCC. You can watch live editions of the show throughout the summer at www.facebook.com/englandcricket
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