CRICKET 1997: COUNTY-BY-COUNTY GUIDE

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DERBYSHIRE

Last season: BAC 2nd; SL 11th; B&H zonal; NatWest quarter-final.

Captain: Dean Jones

Coach: Les Stillman

They have the firepower in Devon Malcolm, Phillip DeFreitas, Andrew Harris and Kevin Dean and the batting has a satisfying balance of power-play (Chris Adams), proven quality (captain Dean Jones) and dependability (Kim Barnett). They also have an all-rounder of the highest calibre in Dominic Cork, provided he can put his winter of discontent on the professional and private front behind him. Andy Hayhurst will bring backbone to the batting and more variety to the attack. But while they did brilliantly to confound everyone outside the county and finish second to Leicestershire in the Championship last season, they do still lack a front-line spinner.

More use will have to be made of Gul Khan as an occasional leg spinner and a little more confidence must be shown in Matthew Vandrau's off-breaks.

Captain Jones will not be affected by this summer's Ashes tour, but there is a little cloud hovering over his fitness. The Victorian proved himself, in tandem with fellow Australian Les Stillman, the coach, to be an exceptionally good motivator, as well as possessing oodles of class, allowing him to lead by example. But the side will have to work harder for everything, there are a lot of other hungry teams out there this time around.

IN: Vince Clarke (Leics), Andy Hayhurst (Som), Ian Blackwell, Trevor Smith.

OUT: Allan Warner (retired), Simon Base (ret), Frank Griffith (released), Tim O'Gorman (released), Colin Wells (Som).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Dean Jones (Victoria and Australia).

DURHAM

Last season: BAC 18th; SL 18th; B&H zonal; NatWest 2nd round.

Captain: David Boon

Coach: Norman Gifford

After last summer - bottom of the Championship, ditto the Sunday League - the only way is up. And the difference this year - a very big difference - is the arrival of former Australian Test batsman David Boon. He comes in as manager-captain, but Tasmania's favourite son faces the devil of a task to pull things round. A priority will be to instil some much-needed self-belief into a squad that certainly does not lack talent.

Pace bowler Simon Brown, whose efforts last year earned him brief England recognition, should improve on his 69 wickets this year. And he can expect support from Melvyn Betts, a rapidly improving seamer. David Cox has also matured as an off-spinner. Few counties earned as many bowling bonus points as the North-easterners last summer. Batting was the problem.

Mike Roseberry has spent a winter regrooving his technique with his old Middlesex mentor Don Bennett. Nick Speak has been signed from Lancashire to bolster the upper order and Martin Speight, a batsman of proven quality, will double up as wicketkeeper in an effort to lengthen the order and they also have Jon Lewis from Essex; Boon will be a notable addition. His 107 Tests bear witness to his experience and he will no doubt be eager to add to his 50-odd first-class centuries.

IN: Martin Speight (Sussex); Nick Speak (Lancs); Jon Lewis (Essex).

OUT: Phil Bainbridge (ret); Shaun Birbeck (rel); Jon Longley (rel); Chris Scott (rel); Sherwin Campbell (West Indies).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: David Boon (Tasmania and Australia).

ESSEX

Last season: BAC 5th; SL 17th; B&H zonal; NatWest finalists.

Captain: Paul Prichard

Coaching consultant: Keith Fletcher

Lucky enough to be allowed to keep the marvellous all-round talents of Australian Stuart Law, who did so much for them last summer, but even without him there is plenty of promising youth on the up in the likes of fast bowler Ashley Cowan and as much life as ever in the old hangdog Graham Gooch, 43 and going on for ever. They made a shrewd signing in the winter, snapping up the highly talented all-rounder Danny Law from Sussex and, with Mark Ilott and Ronnie Irani firing on all fronts again, they represent a formidable all-round team.

There will be no John Childs, but Paul Grayson has settled in the south- east and although he may want to be regarded as a regular batsman and occasional tweaker, it is likely that Essex will look to him to give the superbly consistent off-spinner Peter Such vital support in that area.

Nasser Hussain will be missed. England calls are likely to deprive Essex of him for almost half the summer; but in his absence the experienced captain, Paul Prichard, who hit form with the bat late last year, can expect pertinent contributions from Darren Robinson and wicketkeeper Robert Rollins. With two Laws to make use of, their prospects for the summer shift up a gear from the possible to the probable.

IN: Danny Law (Sussex); Ian Flanagan.

OUT: John Childs (ret); Jonathan Lewis (Durham); Nick Derbyshire (rel).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Stuart Law (Queensland and Australia).

GLAMORGAN

Last season: BAC 10th; SL 13th; B&H QF; NatWest 1st.

Captain: Matthew Maynard

Director of coaching: Alan Jones

The King of Swing, Waqar Younis, is in town. Already supporters in the principality are hugging each other in anticipation of seeing the Pakistani fast bowler get opposing batsman rocking and reeling to his toe-breaking tune. But he does not arrive until early May, and news of his latest injury may delay his arrival even further.

When he does get there it is hard not to see him inspiring the county to something or other. But no one player is bigger than the game. Waqar has to stay free of injury and he will need support from the other end.

As Surrey, and pretty well everyone else for that matter, has discovered, Waqar works best in shorter bursts and with an older ball. He can count on more than support from the ever-willing, and always dangerous, Steve Watkin. Then there is the off-spin of Robert Croft and the orthodox slow left-arm bowling of Dean Cosker.

Couple all that to a batting order in which four players passed 1,450 runs last season, two of whom, captain Matthew Maynard and the chunky Anthony Cottey, are capable of destroying attacks with their superlative strokeplay, and the ingredients are there for a serious challenge for honours.

IN: Simon Jones.

OUT: David Hemp (Warwicks); Neil Kendrick (rel); Alistair Dalton (rel); Steve Barwick (rel); James Williams (rel); Roland Lefebvre (ret); Ottis Gibson.

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Waqar Younis (Multan and Pakistan).

GLOUCS

Last season: BAC 13th; SL 16th; B&H QF; NatWest 2nd.

Captain: Mark Alleyne

Coach: Andy Stovold

Andrew Symonds has jumped ship, opting for Australian nationality; Courtney Walsh's West Indies commitments left him just six weeks of the season, so the captain also hopped ashore; two blows which the West Country side did not need. Add to that the leadership issue, England wicketkeeper Jack Russell turning down the opportunity to stand in for Walsh - as he did so successfully two years ago - which could have had a very unsettling effect.

New captain Mark Alleyne must motivate the squad and hit form early. Replacement overseas signing, all-rounder Shaun Young of Tasmania, has a big slot to fill and much will depend on Monte Lynch and Tony Wright showing the younger batsmen the way. Matthew Windows needs to produce the goods this year. The same applies to Rob Cunliffe and Bobby Dawson.

Young should be able to provide back-up for the talented left-arm swing bowler Mike Smith. Of course, everyone will expect wondrous things of David Lawrence, the former England fast bowler. He is back five years after suffering a broken kneecap on tour with England in New Zealand. There is no doubt his county needs him, but he has already achieved the impossible in getting this far. Anything else would be a miracle and a miracle may take a little longer.

IN: Christopher Read; James Averis ; David Lawrence (from retirement).

OUT: Andrew Symonds (Australia); David Boden (rel); Kevin Cooper (ret); Courtney Walsh (West Indies).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Shaun Young (Tasmania and Australia).

HAMPSHIRE

Last season: BAC 14th; SL 15th; B&H zonal; NatWest QF.

Captain: John Stephenson

Coach: Malcolm Marshall

Like Essex they were able to keep their Australian. Matthew Hayden, the prolific left-hand batsman who hit the first of his 21 first-class hundreds on his debut, will offer a great deal, but he will still need help. The captain, John Stephenson, suffered last year and a return to form with the bat is vital if they are to make any headway.

They have the promising Will Kendall, who passed 500 runs in eight Championship appearances, the exciting Jason Laney, who fell just short of 1,000 runs, and Giles White, who began to make an impact late last summer. And, of course, there is Robin Smith, their only batsman to reach four figures in the Championship last year. The batting will also be shored up by wicketkeeper Adrian Aymes, who averaged more than 40 in addition to claiming 40 victims.

But the bowling wants beefing up. Cardigan Connor worked manfully, heroically even, but he cannot do it all. He will have the added distraction of this being his benefit season and he will welcome contributions from Dimitri Mascarenhas, whose first two Championship matches produced 16 wickets, James Bovill and Stephenson.

That attack will also look to Shaun Udal for some quality off spin, and hope that slow left-armer Raj Maru rediscovers his wicket-taking ability.

IN: Dimitri Mascarenhas; Derek Kenway; Matthew Swarbrick.

OUT: Winston Benjamin (Antigua), Martin Thursfield (Sussex); Liam Botham (ret, but registration retained); Sean Morris (rel); Paul Terry (rel).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Matthew Hayden (Queensland and Australia).

KENT

Last season: BAC 4th; SL 10th; B&H QF; NatWest, 2nd.

Captain: Steve Marsh

Coach: John Wright

This is a serious outfit. They may have lost coach Daryl Foster and, more significantly, Carl Hooper, arguably one of the best overseas signings of recent times, but look who has replaced them. New Zealand's John Wright will provide innovative approaches on the coaching front, drawing on an exemplary Test career, while Zimbabwe's leg spinner Paul Strang could prove the signing of the season.

Even before Strang's arrival the attack would have been one of the most potent around. Martin McCague is one of the quickest on the circuit when he is fired up, while Dean Headley, providing he can overcome his chronic hip problem, will be a good bet to pass 50 wickets for the season. He claimed three hat-tricks last summer (McCague also managed one) and made a huge impression on England A's tour of Australia. On his day he can also bat a bit.

Talking of batting, Alan Wells will want to prove a point or two to Sussex and the England selectors. Trevor Ward can be relied upon to be his usual prolific best and Matthew Walker and Nigel Llong are both now accomplished batsmen capable of building big innings. Add the reliability of captain Steve Marsh, Matthew Fleming's explosive power play and an in-form Graham Cowdrey and you have the elements of success.

IN: Alan Wells (Sussex); Robert Key; Alan Igglesden (released, but being retained on a match by match basis).

OUT: Carl Hooper (West Indies commitments); Mark Benson (ret); Neil Taylor (Sussex).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Paul Strang (Mashonaland and Zimbabwe).

LANCASHIRE

Last season: BAC 15th; SL 9th; B&H winners; NatWest winners.

Captain:

Mike Watkinson

Coach:

Dav Whatmore

They have nothing to prove on the one-day front, so it will be interesting to see if new coach Dav Whatmore, an Australian who masterminded Sri Lanka's wonderful World Cup victory in 1996 (a one-day competition it has to be said), can marshall the not inconsiderable playing resources at the country's biggest club and steer them to the more fulfiling triumph of a County Championship, while at the same time keeping them focused on the limited- overs competitions at which they have excelled for so long.

They bristle with talent capable of challenging for the longer-format crown. Wasim Akram will be with them and he can inspire a clutch of younger home-grown bowlers, Richard Green and Andrew Flintoff in particular, as well as Peter Martin and Glen Chapple. But the specialist spinners, the Garys, Keedy and Yates, need to take more than the 28 wickets they managed between them last year.

The batting has to pull up its socks a little way as well. Graham Lloyd is capable of turning a match on his own, Stephen Titchard is no slouch either and Jason Gallian and Neil Fairbrother are proven performers in all forms of the game. Wicketkeeper Warren Hegg wields the willow to good purpose and, when England do not want them, Mike Atherton and John Crawley have been known to bat a bit as well.

IN: None.

OUT: Steve Elworthy (rel); Nick Speak (Durham); David Thompson (rel).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Wasim Akram (PIA and Pakistan).

LEICS

Last season: BAC champions; SL 12th; B&H zonal; NatWest 2nd.

Captain:

James Whitaker

Cricket manager: Jack Birkenshaw

Never has so much been owed by so many to so few. They used just 13 players in lifting the Championship from under everyone's noses. OK, they had their share of luck. There were no significant injuries to key players and opponents underestimated their capabilities. Perhaps the opposition were distracted by the now famous huddle, instigated by the captain, James Whitaker, whose own return to classy form with the bat coincided with some spectacular stuff from other members of the side.

Vince Wells had an annus mirabilis and was one of four players to pass 1,000 runs in the Championship. But how they will miss Phil Simmons. West Indies' demanding schedule leaves him so little time to devote to Leicestershire that they have been forced to look elsewhere for an overseas player, that and the fact that everyone else has now wised up to them suggests that they will not find things as easy this year.

Still they have promising youngsters by the dressing-roomfull. Darren Maddy is a precocious batsman with aspirations on the bowling front. Matthew Brimson has emerged as a slow left-arm bowler of tremendous potential and worked well in tandem with the off-spinner Adrian Pierson. David Millns and Alan Mullally always cause problems, while Gordon Parsons and Wells will provide invaluable back-up.

IN: Anatole Thomas

OUT: Phil Simmons (West Indies commitments); Nigel Briers (ret); Vince Clarke (Derbyshire); Carlos Remy (rel).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: To be confirmed.

MIDDLESEX

Last season: BAC 9th; SL 7th; B&H zonal; NatWest 2nd.

Captain:

Mike Gatting

Coach:

Don Bennett

Whether they will be able to make this a memorable final season for their captain, Mike Gatting, is questionable. The signing of South Africa's young batsman Jacques Kallis guarantees them plenty of runs, but if Angus Fraser and Richard Johnson break down during the season it is hard to see where the wickets will come from. Naturally Phil Tufnell will do his stuff, but his slow left-arm bowling will almost certainly be required by England.

The off-spin of Paul Weekes will be called upon even more than before, but he will need to double last year's tally of 25 and take them more economically. But it will give the all-rounder Keith Dutch a chance to show how well he can spin the ball, while Richard Fay and James Hewitt will be expected to shoulder more responsibility in the pace department.

In addition to Kallis's contribution the batting line-up is awesome. There is the prodigious talent of Owais Shah, still at school. There is Gatting himself, who will be looking to improve on last season and Mark Ramprakash looking to carry on where he left off (averaging more than 50) as well as Jason Pooley, Keith Brown and Weekes, all capable of big scores. Middlesex just need the bowlers to come off.

IN: Aaron Laraman; David Lye; Neil Martin; Andrew Strauss.

OUT: Dion Nash (New Zealand); David Follett (Northants); Amer Khan (Sussex); John Carr (ret); Mark Feltham (ret); Ian Gould (ret).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Jacques Kallis (Western Province and South Africa).

NORTHANTS

Last season: BAC 16th; SL 6th; B&H finalists; NatWest 2nd.

Captain:

Rob Bailey

Coach:

John Emburey

The proven performer Curtly Ambrose has gone, but the potential is still there. The signing of the more youthful Pakistani pace bowler Mohammad Akram may yet be an astute move. After all, they cannot get much worse than their 16th place in the Championship. The coach, John Emburey, made another astute signing over the winter, that of Middlesex seamer David Follett, who left the metropolis for domestic reasons.

The county will have to take the plunge with their promising youngsters. Kevin Innes and John Hughes, when given the opportunity (and the ball), must take it and provide support for Paul Taylor, David Capel and Kevin Curran. Similarly, Jeremy Snape is a young off-spinner whose potential must be utilised.

On the batting front, David Sales was the outstanding young talent to emerge last year, hitting an unbeaten double hundred on his debut - the highest score by an Englishman in his first first-class match. Richard Montgomerie battled through a bad patch to finish on a high note and his classy contributions with the bat should prove significant, as should those of Mal Loye. Tony Penberthy remains a worthy all-rounder, while David Ripley is a wicketkeeper who can bat and Russell Warren a batsman who is extremely competent behind the stumps.

IN: David Follett (Middlesex); Michael Davies; Andrew Dobson; Richard Logan; Graeme Swann.

OUT: Curtly Ambrose (unavailable); Neil Mallender (ret); Andy Roberts (rel); Richard Wild (rel).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Mohammad Akram (Rawalpindi and Pakistan).

NOTTS

Last season: BAC 17th; SL 2nd; B&H zonal; NatWest 1st.

Captain:

Paul Johnson

Cricket manager:

Alan Ormrod

As if last season's finish was not bad enough, they have now lost the services of Chris Cairns, replaced as the overseas signing by Pakistan's Mohammad Zahid. He is their only signing on the playing side. But perhaps the most critical appointment from point of view of the manager, Alan Ormrod, is that of groundsman Steve Birks, who has joined them from Derbyshire. The team will be looking at Birks to work the sort of magic woven by the legendary Trent Bridge pitch doctor, Ron Allsopp.

Those pitches will still have to be exploited properly. The captain, Paul Johnson, will be hoping for better things from his two apprentice slow left-armers Usman Afzaal and James Hindson, who will be needed to support old stager Andy Afford and off- spinner Richard Bates. The arrival of former Nottinghamshire and England off-spinner Eddie Hemmings as bowling coach should help to sort that out.

On paper the batting takes care of itself. The reality last year was that only one man, Tim Robinson, passed 1,000 Championship runs for the season.

More is needed from Johnson, Ashley Metcalfe and Paul Pollard. Matthew Dowman and Graeme Archer also need to consolidate and look to build big innings, the pair managed just a century apiece in the Championship. Leaving everything to the veterans is no way to progress.

IN: None

OUT: Chris Cairns (New Zealand); Bobby Chapman (Worcs); Mark Broadhurst (rel); Jonathan Wileman (rel); Greg Mike (rel); David Pennett (rel).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Mohammad Zahid (Pakistan)

SOMERSET

Last season: BAC 11th; SL 5th; B&H zonal; NatWest QF.

Captain:

Peter Bowler

Coach:

Dermot Reeve

Dermot Reeve could yet prove to be the grit in the oyster. The new coach will be helped by a new captain, Peter Bowler. They could be an explosive compound. And of course there is Mushtaq Ahmed, the Pakistani leg-spinning maestro. He is a match winner, but not even he can do it all.

The pace attack of Andy Caddick and Andre van Troost, with support from all-rounder Graham Rose and Kevin Shine, has to do its share of the work and remain free of injury, or the likes of Jason Kerr will find themselves with a deal of unexpected responsibility. If Caddick does too well then Somerset could lose him to England anyway.

The batting has been patchy. Mark Lathwell and Marcus Trescothick must establish themselves once and for all as an opening pair; both have an inordinate amount of talent. Bowler proved he can produce the goods, Robbie Turner can stick around when it counts, as can new vice-captain Richard Harden, an attractive strokeplayer when the occasion allows.

Piran Holloway made the transition from wicketkeeper to specialist batsman with a degree of success and if Simon Ecclestone comes off as an all-rounder in the one-day game then Reeve's first season as a coach could end on a triumphant note in one or other of the competitions.

IN: Steve Herzberg; Michael Burns (Warwicks); Haydn Morgan; Luke Sutton; Samuel Trego; Colin Wells (Derbyshire).

OUT: Shane Lee (NSW and Australia); Andy Hayhurst (Derbyshire); Jeremy Batty (rel); Jeremy Hallett (rel).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Mushtaq Ahmed (United Bank and Pakistan).

SURREY

Last season: BAC 3rd; SL champions; B&H QF; NatWest SF.

Captain:

Adam Hollioake

Cricket manager: David Gilbert

Having finally discovered the art of winning by lifting the Sunday League title, they look capable on paper and on grass of sweeping the board. If they do not do so, it will not be down to lack of desire. Under a new captain, the marvellously talented Adam Hollioake and the guidance of David Gilbert, the sky looks to be the limit. The decision to rely on home-grown talent now that Brendon Julian is wanted by Australia means youngsters like Ben Hollioake, Adam's younger brother, will get a chance.

Hollioake is bursting with potential and is certain to make his name at least in the one-day side. Like fast bowler Alex Tudor, the England Under-19 player is ripe for introduction to top-class cricket. Tudor is quicker than most, a thinking bowler, with a yorker to rival Waqar's and could prove the perfect foil for seamers Martin Bicknell and Joey Benjamin.

Hollioake Snr oozes class with the bat, as do Alistair Brown, Darren Bicknell and the England all-rounder Chris Lewis. Opener Mark Butcher will be pressing his claim for senior England honours after a successful A tour, and of course Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe are in their pomp and prime. In the past, they have lacked a first-rate spinner, but Ian Salisbury has arrived, hoping The Oval pitches will suit his leg spin.

IN: Ian Salisbury (Sussex); Jon Batty (Oxford Univ); Mark Patterson (Ireland).

OUT: Graham Kersey (deceased); David Ward (rel); Andy Smith (rel); Mark Bainbridge (rel); Mark Kenlock (rel); Neil Sargeant (ret).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: None.

SUSSEX

Last season: BAC 12th; SL 14th; B&H zonal; NatWest QF.

Captain: Peter Moores

Coaches: Desmond Haynes, Chris Waller

After the sort of winter they have had to endure, this summer looks like being uphill all the way. No Alan Wells, Ian Salisbury, Martin Speight, Danny Law and, of course, Ed Giddins. One or two good signings have still been made and Vasbert Drakes came into his own late last summer and showed himself a genuine all-rounder.

The changes off the field, though, appear to have had a positive, galvanising effect. Coach Desmond Haynes and captain Peter Moores still have plenty of talent to draw on. Pace bowler James Kirtley will have extra responsibility until such time as Jason Lewry is fit enough to resume his career. He is not expected to have recovered from a back injury much before the half- way mark in the season and that will put an intolerable burden on the attack.

They do have a leg-spinner, Amer Khan having joined from Middlesex, while Nicholas Phillips, now some five years into his county career, will be expected to contribute wickets to the cause with his off-spin.

Runs should not be a problem. Bill Athey is still around and making scores, and much will depend on him, Neil Lenham and Keith Greenfield to draw on their experience and provide the foundations for big innings.

IN: Mark Robinson (Yorkshire); Amer Khan (Middlesex); Martin Thursfield (Hampshire); Neil Taylor (Kent); Toby Peirce (re-engaged); Nicholas Wilton; James Pyemont.

OUT: Alan Wells (Kent); Ian Salisbury (Surrey); Danny Law (Essex); Martin Speight (Durham); Ed Giddins (suspended, Warwicks from 1998); Jamie Hall (rel).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Vasbert Drakes (Barbados).

WARWICKS

Last season: BAC 8th; SL 4th; B&H SF; NatWest 2nd.

Captain:

Tim Munton

Director of coaching: Phil Neale

Batsmen are bracing themselves for what may be termed Disneytime. Donald ducks will litter the batting records now that South Africa's fast bowler Allan Donald is back in action. They can afford to use him sparingly and hope to bring on the youngster Darren Altree, who made such an impression against the Pakistanis last summer.

In fact, Warwickshire have a battery of seamers ready and able to support one of the best fast bowlers in the world. Dougie Brown and Graeme Welch are eager for success and, in addition, the new captain, Tim Munton, who will again be at the forefront of the attack, can draw on the experience of Gladstone Small. Then there is the promising left-arm spinner Ashley Giles, another England A tour success in the winter. Off-spinner Neil Smith tasted success with ball and bat in all forms of the game.

But runs will also be expected from Nick Knight, once he has recovered fully from a broken finger while Dominic Ostler has to turn some fifties into centuries.Trevor Penney would make it into any side for his dazzling fielding, but he also scores runs and was the only man in the side to pass 1,000 Championship runs last summer. Andy Moles and Wasim Khan are also prolific run-gatherers and David Hemp looks a sound signing from Glamorgan.

IN: Ed Giddins (Sussex, from 1998); David Hemp (Glamorgan).

OUT: Shaun Pollock (Natal and South Africa); Paul Smith (rel); Dermot Reeve (ret); Michael Burns (Somerset).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Allan Donald (Orange Free State and South Africa).

WORCS

Last season: BAC 7th; SL 8th; B&H zonal; NatWest 2nd.

Captain: Tom Moody

Coach: David Houghton

This is a squad full of potential. From Graeme Hick, who needs just 10 more hundreds for a century of first-class centuries, to the captain, Tom Moody, who, at his best, can be magnificent. So much so that Western Australian not only topped the county's batting averages but also finished third in the bowling.

The old pros will be there: Tim Curtis and Phil Newport, the latter playing in just half a dozen Championship games last season before injury put him out of action, batsman David Leatherdale, Stuart Lampitt, this year's beneficiary Richard Illingworth the England slow left-arm bowler, and wicketkeeper Steven Rhode. All will be expected to dig in for their captain and their county.

And they, in their turn, can expect help from the wannabes. Opener Philip Weston improved beyond all recognition under the guidance of the coach, David Houghton. Houghton has a crop of burgeoning talent under his care. Batsmen Reuben Spiring and Vikram Solanki and pace bowler Alamgir Sheriyar. The all-rounder Gavin Haynes is back after a knee injury.

The last three seasons have seen them move up from 15th in 1994 to seventh last year. The new season could be one of unprecedented success for Moody and his band.

IN: Bobby Chapman (Notts); Maneer Mirza (summer contract); Stephen Price (summer contract); Neil Slade (summer contract); Elliott Wilson (summer contract).

OUT: Mohammed Amjad (rel); Matthew Church (rel); James Ralph (rel).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Tom Moody (Western Australia and Australia).

YORKSHIRE

Last season: BAC 6th; SL 3rd; B&H SF; NatWest SF.

Captain:

David Byas

Coach: Doug Padgett

There is little doubt that the White Rose county has a blooming good chance to win something this summer.

They may have been thwarted in their bid to get Michael Slater but Darren Lehmann is not exactly a poor substitute with more than 7,000 Sheffield Shield runs and a first-class average of almost 50.

Darren Gough's and Chris Silverwood's penetrative bowling will more than likely be needed by England so they need to be made great use of early on, when perhaps pitches should be more helpful. Of course Craig White and Peter Hartley can always be relied on to provide the necessary back- up, having taken 90 wickets between them in the Championship last year. But there is a queue of youngsters ready to take over from these two, Alex Wharf, Gavin Hamilton and Paul Hutchison, who turned out for The Rest last season but is still awaiting his first-class debut with the county, must seize every opportunity as it arises. Spinners Richard Stemp and Michael Vaughan need to be more penetrative.

The batting is studded with class. Vaughan and Anthony McGrath are capable of very big innings, David Byas and Martyn Moxon will have been a little disappointed at missing out on their 1,000 Championship runs last time.

IN: James Hood; Ryan Robinson.

OUT: Michael Bevan (NSW and Australia); Mark Robinson (Sussex); Christopher Schofield (rel).

OVERSEAS PLAYER: Darren Lehmann (South Australia).

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