LV=CC Div 2 predictions
Posted in Domestic Cricket
Following Dominic Cork’s retirement, Jimmy Adams is charged with the task of guiding his Hampshire side back into Division One at the first attempt.
The departure of Michael Lumb was countered with the capture of experienced Australia batsman Simon Katich, who is expected to pass the 1,000-run mark.
Adams needs to bring the best out of promising pair James Vince and Danny Briggs, while Hampshire will be majorly boosted by the availability of key men Michael Carberry and Dimitri Mascarenhas, who both struggled with injury last campaign. Sean Ervine’s all-round game will help Hampshire become genuine promotion contenders.
Will this be the year that Northamptonshire finally win promotion? After agonisingly missing out by a point last campaign, Northants will find it tougher than ever to escape the highly-competitive Division Two.
They have the experience and players to do it, but will their previous near misses become psychological? Kyle Coetzer will be finally ready to cement a first-team place after regularly being left on the fringes of the Durham side, while Jack Brooks will be motivated by potential England call-ups.
David Sales, Chaminda Vaas and Andrew Hall provide the experience that young stars such as David Willey and Alex Wakely can use to their advantage. But Northants may have to settle for another season in the second tier.
Essex will need to find consistency as they aim to build a promotion push. Three South Africans have arrived at Chelmsford to boost all departments of Paul Grayson’s squad, with Charl Willoughby, Greg Smith and Alviro Petersen all likely to have a say on a charge up the table.
Skipper James Foster will also need Owais Shah, Graham Napier and Adam Wheater to perform, while Willoughby and David Masters will form a devastating new-ball partnership.
But with the strength of Yorkshire and Hampshire’s squads, Essex may have to settle for third place.
Gloucestershire may find this season a struggle. They have decided against renewing Chris Taylor’s contract and allowed Jon Lewis to join Surrey.
Alex Gidman’s side have invested in youth which could see them entering a rebuilding period. Alex’s brother, Will, will benefit the side with a repeat of last year’s performances and batsmen Chris Dent and Ian Cockbain need to continue their progressions.
Experienced batsman Hamish Marshall will be vital to Gloucestershire’s cause, but a lack of star players - aside from overseas player Kane Williamson - could see them languish near the bottom of the table.
Yorkshire are favourites to return to the top division and with the talent they have in their squad, you can see why. Relegation gave their star players reality checks, meaning they all have points to prove.
Competition for places are healthy at Headingley Carnegie with a number of players hoping to catch the eye of new first-team coach Jason Gillespie. Phil Jaques’ arrival is likely to see two of Adam Lyth, Anthony McGrath and Joe Sayers on the sidelines, which says how strong the White Rose are.
Adil Rashid and Ajmal Shahzad will both need to fulfil their potential if they are to keep in England reckoning and Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root will want to continue to enhance their reputations. Gary Ballance and Ryan Sidebottom are also vital to the Yorkshire promotion push.
Leicestershire had their troubles last season and, with the departure of three key men, could once again prop up the rest.
James Taylor and Harry Gurney have made the move to Nottinghamshire and Paul Nixon has retired, leaving Leicestershire with big holes to fill, especially after new signing Martin van Jaarsveld decided to cut his ties with county cricket.
However, Leicestershire will be boosted by the capture of once England Lion seamer Robbie Joseph and the intriguing arrival of West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan, who will have to score heavily. Josh Cobb, Will Jefferson, Matthew Hoggard and Nathan Buck will all be relied on if Leicestershire are to better last year’s sole championship victory.
Derbyshire could well shock a few teams this season. A youthful looking side, boasting overseas talent from Martin Guptill and then Usman Khawaja, Derbyshire will need to show consistency if they are to take Division Two by storm.
Many of their players have potential to fulfil, such as David Wainwright, who has made the move to Derby to find regular first-team action, and Tom Poynton, deputising behind the stumps for the retired Luke Sutton.
Wes Durston will want to continue his progression that has seen him become an important player, while Chesney Hughes, Dan Redfern and Ross Whiteley have big reputations to preserve. Jonathan Clare and Tony Palladino give Derbyshire ammunition in the bowling department, with Wayne Madsen likely to enjoy a promising start to his captaincy.
Glamorgan showed enough promise in 2010 to suggest they will be looking to kick on again. Under new leadership from Mark Wallace, the Welsh county have plenty of young players coming through the ranks and making an impact at first-team level.
England Lions seamer Jamie Harris continues to excel with the ball, while Gareth Rees and Will Bragg will be key run-scorers. Add that to the experience of Simon Jones, returning to Wales from Hampshire, and Marcus North and Glamorgan have an excellent spine to build a foundation on.
Spin duo Robert Croft and Dean Cosker will be vital in forcing results and, with consistency, the SWALEC Stadium could enjoy a fruitful campaign.
New coach Jimmy Adams has a lot on his plate to turn around Kent’s fortunes. Their struggles were well-documented last year and the loss of Joe Denly and Martin van Jaarsveld won’t do much for confidence either.
They have entered a major rebuilding process that gives captain Rob Key the chance to create another emerging side. The arrivals of Charlie Shreck and Mark Davies will significantly strengthen the bowling department and Michael Powell and Ben Harmison should make up for the two high-profile departures.
James Tredwell, Darren Stevens and Azhar Mahmood will always show consistency, it is the players around them that have to perform. Adams will have to get the best out of the likes of Sam Northeast, Matt Coles, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Alex Blake if Kent are to make any real progress.