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Old 18th March 2019, 11:55   #1
paulsre
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County cricket preview 2019

In 2012, when I watched first-class cricket in March for the first time, I thought it might be a one-off.

Not so. 2019 will see the earliest start to the domestic season yet – March 26. Yes, it all begins next week, even before British Summer Time commences – meaning a 10am start to the first round of MCCU versus county matches!

As usual, expect Leeds-Bradford, with highly rated Josh Smith a name to note, and Loughborough to provide the best tests for counties in the opening games.

The County Championship also starts very early, on April 5. Surrey should make a strong defence of their title. While Morne Morkel is the obvious match winner, they have bowling strength in depth, with Conor McKerr one to watch out for. The fact that Stuart Meaker, one of the quickest around, barely got a look in last season, shows what resources they have.

But it won’t be all one-way traffic. Let’s not forget that Essex ran away with the title in 2017, and now they have Alastair Cook back for the whole campaign – a huge boost. Yorkshire also have a lot of experienced heads in their squad and have gained a world-class quick in Duanne Olivier. Somerset, under their young leader Tom Abell, also have a side capable of mounting a serious challenge.

Division Two looks competitive this year, with Middlesex, Lancashire, Worcestershire and Sussex widely expected to fight for the three promotion places. I just favour Middlesex under new coach Stuart Law. Looking at their squad, it seems the closest to being a Division One side in Division Two, certainly if Steve Finn and Toby Roland-Jones stay fit.

A word about Northants. With possibly the smallest budget of all, they have made do with imaginative signings, and, narrowly denied promotion in 2017, it’s always interesting to see how they get on. They have West Indies skipper Jason Holder for the first month, Blessing Muzarabani is an interesting recruit and they also have the services of the lesser-spotted Curran, Ben.

Much of the early season will revolve around the Royal London Cup, with the final on May 25. It can throw up surprises, but I expect Nottinghamshire and Surrey to both make a strong show. Peter Moores has recognised Notts’ weaknesses from last season and a top order with the likes of Ben Duckett, Joe Clarke and Alex Hales – the latter available for the first four cup matches at least – is an explosive one. Hampshire defend the cup but their performances with the white ball can vary dramatically from one season to the next.

The T20 Blast is always wide open. However, Warwickshire/Birmingham Bears really ought to do better than last year’s failure to qualify, especially with Paul Fabrace now on board. If they get to Finals Day, they have home advantage. But I also have a feeling that Middlesex might step up after several dismal seasons. They certainly have the players, the coach, the crowds, and have signed AB de Villiers and mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman for the Blast.

At this time of the year, even the clubs who had a dismal 2018 will say they’re raring to go for a successful season, and rightly so. But there is only so much success to be had and the hard fact is that several will struggle or make do with that old chestnut, ‘a season of consolidation’. I hope they prove me wrong, but I don’t see silverware or promotion coming to Derbyshire, Durham, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire or Leicestershire, while Kent may find life tougher all round as they compete in Division One of the Championship.
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Old 19th March 2019, 20:57   #2
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Thanks Paulsre. Tis a big season in the Minor Counties Championship this year as well with each conference splitting into two divisions from 2020 onward. The expectation is that the top 5 in each conference this year will be in the respective first divisions, the bottom 5 in the second divisions. So all to play for even for those counties off to a slow start.

Berkshire and Lincolnshire were head and shoulders above the rest last summer in the 3 day Championship but both have lost key players; Waqas Hussian leaving Berkshire for Cambridgeshire and Lincs losing Conrad Louth to Buckinghamshire. Devon have also lost to the hugely influential Josh Bess (cousin of Somerset's Dom) to retirement.

The MC's is notoriously a difficult competition to predict due to the vagaries of player retention but one would imagine that Berks and Lincs will fancy winning the respective conferences again, Berks particularly if the wicket taking extraordinaire Chris Peploe plays another season. The Home County begin the season an astonishing 27 Championship matches unbeaten, a run stretching back to the end of the 2014 summer. Cheshire and Shropshire will likely mount strong challenges in the Western Conference. Oxfordshire also look decent with Gareth Andrew leading the attack and swashbuckling keeper Jonny Cater in charge overall.

In the East Suffolk look a very good side, particularly when Jaik Mickleburgh plays. Neighbours Norfolk also possess a decent batting line up led by Sam Arthurton. Staffordshire have also been consistent in the last few years led by Kadir Ali (Moeen's cousin)

The 50 over comp is straight knock-out for the second year with Cheshire as holders whilst the hugely successful T20 revamp remains regional before a finals day at Wormsley. Berkshire are the reigning champs.

Here's a more statistical based preview of what might happen:

http://www.yahooovercowcorner.wordpr...es-all-change/
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Old 20th March 2019, 12:27   #3
geoff_boycotts_grandmother
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Have any minor county players been picked up by FC counties this winter?

I feel like there should be more movement between the two.
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Old 20th March 2019, 13:35   #4
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Have any minor county players been picked up by FC counties this winter?

I feel like there should be more movement between the two.
These are the moves i've read about:

Jack Davies (Berks) has signed a 2 year deal with Middlesex.
Callum.Taylor (Wales MC's), Kazi Szymanski (Wales MC's) and Jamie McIlroy (Heref) have all signed with Glam.
Logan Hughes (Staffs) and Alex Oxley (Suffolk) have signed with Warwickshire's academy.

Meanwhile, Ben Charlesworth (Oxon), Lewis Goldworthy (Cornwall) and Tom Lammonby (Devon) all played for the England U19's against Bangladesh.
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Old 20th March 2019, 14:56   #5
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These are the moves i've read about:

Jack Davies (Berks) has signed a 2 year deal with Middlesex.
Callum.Taylor (Wales MC's), Kazi Szymanski (Wales MC's) and Jamie McIlroy (Heref) have all signed with Glam.
Logan Hughes (Staffs) and Alex Oxley (Suffolk) have signed with Warwickshire's academy.

Meanwhile, Ben Charlesworth (Oxon), Lewis Goldworthy (Cornwall) and Tom Lammonby (Devon) all played for the England U19's against Bangladesh.
Thanks. Ben Charlesworth is at Gloucs isn't he?
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Old 20th March 2019, 16:00   #6
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Thanks. Ben Charlesworth is at Gloucs isn't he?
Just checked, he signed for the last October so should have been on the first part of my list really!

It can be a blurred link between the MC's and the FC's as Charlesworth played in the Champo for Gloucs last season before signing for them whilst Jack Davies was playing for Middlesex 2's off and on last summer before signing for the club after the season.
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Old 20th March 2019, 19:10   #7
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Can a MC expert explain why Staffs and Cumberland are in the East Division? (also why no westmorland)

Surely Oxon and Berks would be more East than those 2?

i assume its to try to reduce travel (ie Cornwall to Cumberland), but surely the names should be changed from east and West given Cumberland is ont he West coast!
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Old 20th March 2019, 19:16   #8
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Can a MC expert explain why Staffs and Cumberland are in the East Division? (also why no westmorland)

Surely Oxon and Berks would be more East than those 2?

i assume its to try to reduce travel (ie Cornwall to Cumberland), but surely the names should be changed from east and West given Cumberland is ont he West coast!
Basically its because there's a glut of minor counties in the south west (Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Herefordshire, Wales MC's) and none in the south east where all the counties are first-class. Therefore, the dividing line basically is a diagonal across the country. And, as you say, travel likely came into it as well. Cornwall hacking it to Cumberland (or vice versa) really isnt palatable for what are, basically, amateur teams.

Not sure about Westmoreland. No Rutland or the Isle of Wight either.
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Old 20th March 2019, 21:38   #9
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The strange thing is that the renaming of the competition would have been a golden opportunity to also rename the East and Wesr divisions. If in 2020 they will no longer be called the Minor Counties, but the National Counties Cricket Association, why not call the divisions the Graves Conference and the Harrison Conference - or whatever.
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Old 22nd March 2019, 12:52   #10
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The County Championship also starts very early, on April 5. Surrey should make a strong defence of their title. While Morne Morkel is the obvious match winner, they have bowling strength in depth, with Conor McKerr one to watch out for. The fact that Stuart Meaker, one of the quickest around, barely got a look in last season, shows what resources they have.

But it wonít be all one-way traffic. Letís not forget that Essex ran away with the title in 2017, and now they have Alastair Cook back for the whole campaign Ė a huge boost. Yorkshire also have a lot of experienced heads in their squad and have gained a world-class quick in Duanne Olivier. Somerset, under their young leader Tom Abell, also have a side capable of mounting a serious challenge.
It should also be remembered that Essex were widely tipped to crash straight back into Div Two in 2017. Over the past decade, the Championship has proved to be gloriously unpredictable, with eight different winners, some of them (Essex, Lancs, Middx) being genuine surprises. True, itís often easy to pick at least one of the likely relegation sides, but predicting the top places is not something I feel confident about these days.
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Old 22nd March 2019, 13:12   #11
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It should also be remembered that Essex were widely tipped to crash straight back into Div Two in 2017. Over the past decade, the Championship has proved to be gloriously unpredictable, with eight different winners, some of them (Essex, Lancs, Middx) being genuine surprises. True, itís often easy to pick at least one of the likely relegation sides, but predicting the top places is not something I feel confident about these days.
I am. It wonít be Somerset.
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Old 23rd March 2019, 09:09   #12
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I am. It wonít be Somerset.
Maybe not as top dogs but they achieved second place last year after just squeaking clear of relegation in Ď17. Hence my remark that itís so difficult to predict the leading places.




And it provides a straw for us Kent folk to clutch.
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Old 23rd March 2019, 20:09   #13
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It should also be remembered that Essex were widely tipped to crash straight back into Div Two in 2017. Over the past decade, the Championship has proved to be gloriously unpredictable, with eight different winners, some of them (Essex, Lancs, Middx) being genuine surprises. True, itís often easy to pick at least one of the likely relegation sides, but predicting the top places is not something I feel confident about these days.
This summer perhaps particularly troublesome with the big international summer. If a side gets off to a good start they might be hard to catch.
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Old 3rd April 2019, 12:36   #14
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A really interesting season to look forward to. Some quality overseas players here for a sizeable junk of CC (Leicester have Abbas for whole season!) and, unusually, we might see more of the England team playing (Broad & Anderson are likely to feature for the first half) plus Cook.
For what it is worth I think Notts will have a strong year in CC - bowling attack of Broad, Pattinson, Ball + Fletcher/Footit/Chappell will be a handful. And Warks will struggle - no Trott or initially Bell means a big season for Hains is essential or they will struggle for runs. Plus their bowling attack (last years Gloucs!) might take some time to adjust without the stalwarts Barker & Wright.
Div 2 is IMO impossible to predict - although with three going up I would be surprised if Worcs didn't grab one of the spots in their yo-yo existence!

What do others think?
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Old 3rd April 2019, 14:02   #15
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A really interesting season to look forward to. Some quality overseas players here for a sizeable junk of CC (Leicester have Abbas for whole season!) and, unusually, we might see more of the England team playing (Broad & Anderson are likely to feature for the first half) plus Cook.
For what it is worth I think Notts will have a strong year in CC - bowling attack of Broad, Pattinson, Ball + Fletcher/Footit/Chappell will be a handful. And Warks will struggle - no Trott or initially Bell means a big season for Hains is essential or they will struggle for runs. Plus their bowling attack (last years Gloucs!) might take some time to adjust without the stalwarts Barker & Wright.
Div 2 is IMO impossible to predict - although with three going up I would be surprised if Worcs didn't grab one of the spots in their yo-yo existence!

What do others think?

I've just been listening to The Drinks Break podcast and two of the three contributors predicted Notts to be Champions. Personally, as a Notts fan, I have my doubts. I'm not sure that the batting has the self discipline to bat for the required lengthy periods.

My predicted Top 4 fwiw:

Essex
Surrey
Somerset
Notts

Relegated:Warwickshire

Div 2

Promoted:

Worcestershire
Sussex
Lancashire
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Old 3rd April 2019, 15:13   #16
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in div 1 i see a fight between notts & surrey. they both look to have deep squads.
kent need early wins to survive, ( i think they can)

i have a feeling hants & york may be battling for the drop.( both teams look a little flakey.)

in div 2 i think worc will yoyo again & get promoted.
the rest, put names in a hat for remaining promotion spots.

i would love to see one of derby/leic/northants gain a spot as this may be their last chance for promotion for some time with it going back to 2 up, 2 down in 2020.
sussex may be short of runs, lanc & middx should go up but just because they are big sides means nothing.

whatever happens in both divisions, test calls & injuries will play a part and EARLY victories will be essential.

I AM READY & WILL BE TUNING IN ONLINE FROM FRIDAY HERE IN PERTH.
PLENTY OF LATE NIGHTS TO COME.

GO KENT & SUSSEX.

of course i may be wrong.
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