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BigMozzyDog

County Championship

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Surrey to win the championship at 10/1 with Ladbrokes

Ian Bell to be top Warwickshire batter at 5/2 BetVictor

Chris Read to be top Notts batsman at 14/1 BetVictor

 

After the pulsating, edge-of-seat cricket we enjoyed at the T20 World Cup, it’s time to take a step back into the more sedate, and certainly quieter, world of county cricket. First up, we take a look at Division One.

 

Since Dizzy Gillespie arrived at Yorkshire the good times have returned to Headingley, with back to back titles already in the bag. We’re taking a look at three teams who’ll be intent on stopping them, and predicting a few of the stand-out performers.

 

Nottinghamshire

 

The Trent Bridge side haven’t won since 2010, when they had Andre Adams to fire them to the title with 68 wickets. Since then they have flattered to deceive, with a third place finish last year and a few mid table results along the way.

Much of their success has been built on the performance of their seam attack over the years. These days they are of the younger variety, with Stuart Broad having his time taken up with England duty, and Adams retiring due to injury. Instead they have Harry Gurney, Jake Ball and Brett Hutton. It’s an exciting time for the Outlaws.

In the batting department, they made the call to sign the legendary Zimbabwean opener, Brendon Taylor. Obviously we are big fans of this guy. When he arrived he announced his arrival with a series of high scores, including three tons. Only a poor final few games denied him 1,000 runs. He finished 50 short, but was top runscorer for his side.

 

Chris Read, Alex Hales and James Taylor contributed a further eight centuries between them, but  with the latter two likely to miss much of the season on England duty, much of the scoring responsibility will fall to Read, Samit Patel and Brendon Taylor. You can back Chris Read to be their top batsman at 14/1 with BetVictor. At that price, he is too good to miss having managed 873 last year. He won’t need too much more than that this time.

 

Warwickshire

The winners in 2012 and runners up for the last two seasons will be led for the first time by Ian Bell. The former England man will be desperate to regain his place in the test team, after being prematurely ditched.

They’re a side that won’t lose too many players to international duty, and have a strong batting line-up. They will open with Ian Westwood and Varun Chopra, and both can contribute regularly. Their middle order is steady too, with Laurie Evans beginning to bloom, and Ian Bell, who scored one ton in his three knocks last year.

With the ball, they will welcome back Jeetan Patel as their overseas. The Kiwi returned 58 wickets last year, and brings big game nouse to Edgbaston. He also contributes down the order. Elsewhere, they may have plenty of Chris Woakes time thanks to the form of Steven Finn for England, too.

 

There seems to be one stand out bet. Ian Bell is a run machine in the domestic game and will do well again this year. You can back Ian Bell to be top Warwickshire batter at 5/2 with BetVictor.

 

Surrey

After promotion to the top flight, Surrey have added some experience to their exciting young side. In Kumar Sangakkara, they have a legend of the game, who scored five tons last year. They may miss the triple century contribution of a certain KP, who has ruled himself out of playing.

Elsewhere, their side looks like who’s who of talented players. Their bowling has been boosted with the arrival of Mark Footitt, who is a serious signing and will be rapid at the Oval. Ravi Rampaul is another seasoned performer at the top level and will contribute plenty. Their young pretenders will be looking to step up again this year, especially the Curran brothers.

Tom and Sam are formidable players. Sam especially. While tom took 76 wickets, Sam added 22 in just six games. Alongside the experienced Gareth Batty, this is a well balanced attack.

The batting is formidable. Their line-up reads Roy, Sangakkara, Davies, Foakes and Wilson. That’s serious. They could rival Yorkshire this year. You can back Surrey to be champions at 10/1 with Ladbrokes.

Full preview: http://punts.pl/ChampOutright

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Kent to win Division 2 at 9/1 with Stan James

It has to be said that Division Two of the County Championship looks like being a pretty low quality affair this time around, with a relative lack of pedigree throughout. But, might that mean there’s a value selection?

Sussex went down in somewhat dramatic fashion on the last day of the season (something we tipped at the time), and with Luke Wright signed on a skipper, they will probably be the side to beat. Here, we take a look at the three main contenders for promotion, and pick out some players to watch.

Sussex

Undoubtedly the side with the most quality in the ranks, with Ed Joyce and Luke Wright among their big names. They have also added an astute signing in Danny Briggs, the one time England hopeful who lost his way at Hampshire. If he can bowl well on the spin friendly deck at Hove, he could cause a stir at this level.

In Ross Taylor they have a solid overseas, but he is noted for discomfort against the moving ball. He’s here until mid-July, and will see plenty of that in that time. What they really need is a bowler. Their attack, granted plagued by injury, isn’t that strong. With Tymal Mills needing to find fitness, they will be left hoping Chris Jordan is omitted from the test squad. Elsewhere they have Steve Magoffin who is always a consistent performer, and the incoming Briggs.

Briggs is available at 9/1 with Coral to be top Sussex bowler. We’ll know quite quickly just how silly that price is.

Worcestershire

The other relegated side from the top division, Worcestershire are in a state of transition to some degree. They recently lost Alex Gidman to retirement due to injury, Tom Fell, their outstanding batter is recovering from Chemotherapy, and Gareth Andrew has been released. That’s a lot of talent to miss.

Daryl Mitchell will no doubt lead the side well, and score runs himself, but much of their fate will be down to overseas seamer, Matt Henry. The Kiwi could light up the first half of the season, and is the outstanding booking in this division. If he fires on this seam friendly pitch, they may get some points in the bag.

Another source of optimism is Ross Whitely. The batting all rounder is a special talent who is waiting for a breakout season. He’s a hard hitting counter-attacker, who will get lots of game time. Whitely is 6/1 to be top Worcestershire batsman with Coral.

Kent

Rob Key has passed the captaincy reigns to Sam Northeast, who will add some vibrancy to this Kent side, while all the time being able to call upon the knowledge for one of the club’s legends.

This Kent side has class in abundance, which makes their utter failure in the longer format last season, hard to fathom. In addition to overseas, Tom Latham, who will get plenty of runs, they have the skipper, former skipper, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly to pick from. Not to mention Sam Billings.

Bowling may be a slight weakness, but they have a world beater in Matt Coles, Adam Riley and James Tredwell to provide tweak, and six weeks of Kagiso Rabada.
This Kent side has the most class in the division, and in Rob Key they have a potential run machine. After a few lean seasons, the former England man finish last year with over 300 from his last three knocks. You can bet on Key to be top Kent Batsman at 7/1 with Bet365.

Full preview: http://punts.pl/ChampDiv2

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