LV= Insurance County Championship
Thursday April 7 – Thursday September 29, 2022
Nottinghamshire went into the final week of the 2021 Championship season still with a chance of winning the Division One title, part of a four-way battle with Warwickshire, Hampshire and Lancashire.
They won seven of 14 matches, a haul which was one better than champions Warwickshire.
Now they have had to drop down to Division Two because they had been relegated in 2019, a disastrous season. But Coronavirus forced a shortened season in 2020 before a format change in 2021.
But now that the competition is reverting back to two divisions from the Conference experiment, the divisions have worked on those which should have started the summer of 2020.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Notts are the favourites to win the Division Two title this year, a best priced 13/10 with bet365.
They have significant firepower, including Stuart Broad for the opening stages of the summer following his England omission, and Australian and South African quicks James Pattinson and Dane Paterson as their overseas players for the full summer.
They should wreak havoc and join Luke Fletcher, last season’s leading wicket-taker with 66.
Middlesex are second favourites at 9/2, probably owing much to the signing of Pakistan superstar bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi until July.
They finished 2021 well with three wins from four games, but that was in Division Three after a wretched first half of the summer.
Division One looks ultra competitive – Hampshire look good value but Lancashire may be hard to stop
As aforementioned, Hampshire were one of four sides heading into last summer’s final week who still had a chance of winning the Division One title.
And they are a best priced 15/2 with betfred amongst others to put that disappointment behind them.
They have added experienced Sussex captain Ben Brown to their squad, a shrewd signing, and have current and former international seamers Mohammad Abbas and Kyle Abbott as their overseas duo. James Vince is their captain.
I think they should be shorter than 15/2, but I don’t expect them to win the title. I expect that to go Lancashire’s way.
They finished second by a whisker as Warwickshire pipped them to the post on the final day of the season.
And they look strong again, covering all bases, not least having Jimmy Anderson available for the opening stages of the season.
Add in Matt Parkinson, Saqib Mahmood, Pakistan fast bowler Hassan Ali early doors, Tom Bailey, captain Dane Vilas, Keaton Jennings and young batting gun Josh Bohannon and they look very strong.
They are a best priced 9/2 with bet365. That price puts them as second favourites behind Essex (7/2), with Warwickshire at 6/1 with the same company.
I also think Yorkshire look very strong on paper, though media reports suggest they may be subject to a points deduction on the back of Azeem Rafiq’s racial allegations against them. You are taking a chance on backing them at 7/1.
If you fancy the Notts/Lancashire double, they are 11.65/1 with bet365.