Apr 17, 2018
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County Championship: What to look out for in 2018

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County Championship: What to look out for in 2018

Essex received their first County Championship title in 25 years final season
Specsavers County Championship
Dates: 13 April – 27 September
Protection: Reside ball-by-ball radio and textual content commentary of all rounds on the BBC Sport web site, plus desktop, tablets, mobiles and app.

“This time final yr, a variety of pundits had been saying we might go down.”

What do pundits know? Quick ahead to September 2017 and Essex had received the County Championship title by 72 factors. They had been unbeaten, and a rustic mile forward of their rivals.

However after a winter of change off the sector, what’s in retailer for the county champions this season? There are undoubtedly no certainties. Middlesex, title winners in 2016, had been relegated a yr later.

With the 2018 County Championship marketing campaign set to begin on Friday, BBC Sport takes a take a look at what to anticipate over the following six months.

Essex ‘have all of it to do’

That small dig on the ‘pundits’ comes from Essex’s new head coach Anthony McGrath.

The previous England and Yorkshire batsman has a troublesome job to comply with within the footsteps of Chris Silverwood, who led Essex to their first title since 1992 final yr, however is now England’s fast-bowling coach.

“Pleasure is the overriding feeling,” McGrath, 42, informed BBC Essex.

“As defending champions we have got all of it to do. This time final yr a variety of pundits had been saying we would go down, this time they’re saying we’re favourites to win it.

“If we play our greatest cricket, we’re a match for anybody on this division.”

Dimitri Mascarenhas (left) will work as Anthony McGrath’s assistant head coach

By his aspect can be ex-Hampshire and England all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas, appointed in February.

“A very powerful factor in appointing Dimi was his character,” McGrath added. “He is fitted in very well as I knew he would. He is an excellent addition to our squad.”

Alastair Cook dinner will miss their first two video games in opposition to Yorkshire at Headingley and at dwelling to Lancashire, however England’s main Check run-scorer is on the market for the following three fixtures, earlier than the Check sequence in opposition to Pakistan begins in late Might.

The county have additionally strengthened their tempo bowling unit by bringing in Australia international Peter Siddle and Matt Coles from Kent.

Can Notts or Worcestershire ‘do an Essex’?

What made Essex’s feats all of the extra exceptional final season was the very fact they’d solely been promoted from Division Two the earlier marketing campaign.

So can historical past repeat itself?

Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire, who got here as much as Division One, each enter new eras in 2018.

Worcestershire had been rocked by the departure of head coach Steve Rhodes in December following an inner investigation into his conduct, whereas Notts start life with out long-serving captain Chris Learn.

New Pears coach Kevin Sharp can name upon an array of thrilling kids, together with England Lions pair Joe Clarke and Josh Tongue. They’ve additionally added skilled seamer Steve Magoffin and Australia batsman Travis Head to their squad.

Nottinghamshire are underneath the stewardship of latest captain Steven Mullaney following Learn’s retirement on the finish of final season.

Notts have big expertise all through the aspect, and a formidable tempo assault together with Stuart Broad, Jake Ball, Luke Fletcher, Mark Footitt and Harry Gurney.

Their batting line-up has been weakened by the departure of Brendan Taylor to Zimbabwe, Learn’s retirement and Alex Hales’ choice to solely play white-ball cricket.

Notts search for enjoyable and deal with Division One return

Nevertheless, new signing Chris Nash from Sussex and New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor convey greater than 330 first-class video games between them.

Nottinghamshire head coach Peter Moores believes there may be not a lot to separate the eight counties within the prime tier.

“All of the groups in Division One are very robust,” the previous England head coach informed BBC Radio Nottingham.

“Solely eight [sides] within the first division signifies that, even when you’re enjoying effectively, it is arduous to get ready of security proper till the top.

“You are concentrating on to be within the prime three or 4 going into the second half of the season, so you’ll be able to have an actual push at attempting to win it. To do this, I feel the primary 5 video games are massive, it is vital to get some wins in that and we’re going to should play some good cricket.”

Surrey trying robust – the remainder of Division One

One of many pretenders to Essex’s crown is Surrey.

Below new skipper Rory Burns, the south London aspect are on the lookout for their first County Championship title since 2002.

They made an announcement of intent on Tuesday, signing former South Africa quick bowler Morne Morkel on a Kolpak deal.

Virat Kohli could also be heading to The Oval for a brief stint earlier than India’s Check sequence in England

There are additionally robust rumours that India captain Virat Kohli will join