Summer's coming: A look ahead to 2013
It may not feel like it with the recent cold weather, but the 2013 county season is now less than seven weeks away.
Here are a few things that ecb.co.uk will be looking out for when things get under way on April 10.
Mahmood and Plunkett's time to strike back?
It is not so long ago that Sajid Mahmood and Liam Plunkett were viewed as the future of England’s bowling attack.
Unfortunately things have since gone awry for the two pace bowlers, but they have the opportunity to make the most of a fresh start this year.
Having been released by Lancashire, Mahmood is ready to relaunch his career with Essex.
Plunkett, meanwhile, has made the switch from Durham to Yorkshire and will also aim to rediscover his best form in new surroundings.
Both men are blessed with an abundance of talent and should certainly not be written off. Their best days may yet lie ahead.
Who will be the next surprise package?
It is never easy to estimate who will fare well in any given campaign.
Yet 2012 seemed to throw up more shocks than usual.
Few will have tipped Derbyshire to claim the LV= County Championship Division Two title, while the likes of Nick Compton and Keith Barker were among numerous individuals to exceed pre-season expectations.
There is bound to be another surprise or two this summer, but can you foresee who will enhance their reputation?
If last year’s office prediction table is anything to go by, the ECB's website team certainly cannot...
A rejuvenated Hamilton-Brown
Last June the sporting world was rocked by the tragic death of Surrey batsman Tom Maynard.
Speaking to ecb.co.uk following his move, Hamilton-Brown acknowledged the importance of having a fresh goal to focus on.
The all-rounder’s priorities in life may now have changed, but do not be surprised to see him excel on his return to regular action.
Another year of brilliance from Trescothick
An ankle injury kept Marcus Trescothick on the sidelines for much of 2012 and prevented Somerset’s skipper from registering his usual bounty of runs.
The powerful opener had comfortably surpassed the 1,000-run mark in first-class cricket for five successive seasons prior to last term.
Should he remain fit this summer, it is hard to envisage anything other than a sparkling return to form.
Expect centuries aplenty once again from the affable 37-year-old, who is determined to play on into his forties.
Rain is an unfortunate staple of any British summer, but the disruption to the 2012 county season really took the biscuit.
Thousands of overs were lost to inclement weather, with entire four-day fixtures washed out in certain instances.
Surely, when it comes to precipitation, things can only get better?!