8 March 2017

6 Predictions for the 2017 County Cricket Season

Here are 10 things that I predict will occur in the 2017 county cricket season, encompassing all 3 formats.

1 - The Kia Oval will become a raging turner

With three of the best English spinners around in Gareth Batty, Zafar Ansari, and Scott Borthwick, Surrey will be forced to turn the Oval - for four-day matches - into a raging turner. Or at least a pitch that begins flat which deteriorates sharply (then gamble on winning the toss and batting).

2 - Somerset will be a huge contender for the Championship title

The already-strong Somerset squad will have Steven Davies in their ranks this year in an attempt on his part to return to full-time wicket-keeping (having been usurped by Ben Foakes at Surrey), and an attempt on Somerset's part to fill the hole left by Chris Rogers' retirement from First Class cricket. Jack Leach's form could go either way. If his disastrous tour with the England Lions is anything to go by, that may just sink them. Either way, one swallow doesn't make a summer, and the rest of their squad is more than capable of a big title push.

3 - England call-ups will hurt Middlesex and Yorkshire

With England's horrendously packed schedule in 2017, Middlesex (Finn, Roland-Jones, possibly Gubbins and Robson) and Yorkshire (Bairstow, Root, Rashid, Willey, Plunkett, possibly Ballance) will have their squads decimated for a lot longer this year, not helped by England allowing their players to miss the one-day series against Ireland to rack up some Indian money. Whilst these teams could still mount a title challenge, it's likely to be a lot closer to Somerset this year.

4 - Surrey's T20 top four will break records

I'm not sure which records they will be, but with a top four (for part of the tournament) of Jason Roy, Aaron Finch, Kumar Sangakkara, and Kevin Pietersen, any bowling attack that gets Rory Burns (#5) and Zafar Ansari (#6) in can count themselves as being very, very lucky. Or very, very good.

5 - Durham will cakewalk Division Two

Hard to see how Durham won't win Division Two, frankly. Their squad hasn't been decimated too much by their surprise and arguably unfair relegation. They've only lost Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick (both to Surrey), but they've kept hold of Keaton Jennings, and, as with Essex last year, his runs alone will be enough for Durham to easily cakewalk Division Two. Or, if nothing else, get maximum batting points.

6 - Northamptonshire and Glamorgan will concentrate on one-day formats

With Northamptonshire in dire financial straits, they used the T20 competition brilliantly to get some glory on the pitch, and frankly they're going to have to repeat this for a good few years yet. Glamorgan, however, have what I believe to be the strongest T20 squad and this, combined with their decent one-day cup performances last season, will be the bedrock for a good challenge for both trophies this season.

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