1 There are a lot of teams with a chance but Essex are the ones to be shot at. They have a good all-round balance with the ball and the advantage their spinners gives them, especially late in the season, could well be crucial.
2 Somerset have a couple of outstanding youngsters in their opening bowler, Andrew Caddick, and their opening batsman, Mark Lathwell. With his action and height, Caddick is a very promising cricketer. I also like the look of Glamorgan's Robert Croft as a young off-spinner.
3 Derbyshire have a crop of youngsters as good as we have produced for some time. Dominic Cork has already played in a one-day international and Chris Adams is a batsman with a great deal of talent.
DAVID GRAVENEY (Durham)
1 It is hard to see beyond Essex, but assuming Mushtaq Ahmed is fit Somerset could be dark horses. Northants look as good as anyone in the one-dayers.
2 Lathwell and Caddick. Lathwell has loads of natural talent, Caddick gets bounce and movement away from the right-hander and bowls balls that get people out at the highest level.
3 Jimmy Daley showed a lot of promise with the bat at the end of last season and I would hope to see him progress.
GRAHAM GOOCH (Essex)
1 I respect all 17 county teams: they have all improved their staffs. I will think about them as we play them.
2 As the England captain I do not think I should make an individual choice.
3 I think it would be wrong for me to pick out one young Essex player.
HUGH MORRIS (Glamorgan)
1 Surrey have a lot of good players but Waqar Younis will hold the key. He, and to a lesser extent Martin Bicknell, will be devastating on numerous occasions and could swing the balance. Essex have been consistent over the years but I expect them, along with Lancashire and Worcestershire, to make a greater impact in the one-dayers.
2 Caddick. He obtains plenty of bounce, bowls straight and gives you no width.
3 Adrian Dale, a batsman with a great attitude and a great temperament who plays the quicks with plenty of time and has made the No 3 spot his own.
TONY WRIGHT (Gloucs)
1 You have to fancy Essex again but Neil Foster's fitness could be a key factor. Kent are a good side. They have a world-class batsman who bowls spin in Carl Hooper, a good pace attack and strong batting and they seem to be quite a motivated bunch.
2 Lathwell looks quite interesting and I'd like to see Surrey's Graham Thorpe knocking on the door of the England side this time.
3 We're a bit short of bowlers but have a couple of promising batsmen in Matt Windows and Tim Hancock, who made a century on his debut last year.
MARK NICHOLAS (Hampshire)
1 Northants have the strongest all-round squad. They've lacked consistency in the past but Curtly Ambrose has proved himself a remarkable bowler, Paul Taylor will have learnt much in India and Allan Lamb will be available for the whole summer for once. Essex, as ever, will challenge strongly while Surrey and Kent look good outside bets.
2 Alistair Brown of Surrey is a batsman of extreme ability and the sooner he is given a chance at international level the better. Lathwell was the other most gifted batsman I saw in 1992, and I would dearly love to see Ian Salisbury progress.
3 Kevin Shine has the ability to bowl extremely fast, he just needs to improve his temperament and be more consistent. Shaun Udal, it seems, needs to prove he is not just a one-day spinner. Ian Turner is another promising slow bowler.
MARK BENSON (Kent)
1 Essex are used to winning but a lot will depend on Test calls and Foster's fitness. If the winter hasn't taken too much out of Ambrose, Northants have a depth to them that could bring their first Championship. I fancy Surrey, although they could be too reliant on Waqar, while Somerset must have an outside chance.
2 Alistair Brown is an exciting prospect who may have to change his style to suit the four-day game. Hampshire's Tony Middleton is a very tidy opener who could be difficult to budge on slow wickets.
3 Martin McCague is a match-winning fast bowler who was unlucky not to go to India. He has the great knack of taking wickets in bunches.
NEIL FAIRBROTHER (Lancs)
1 Northants have a good balanced side, a great overseas player in Ambrose and a couple of England seamers. If they all stay fit they would be my pick.
2 Although I haven't seen him myself, Lathwell is clearly about to make an impression.
3 We have a lot of fine youngsters. John Crawley is a top-class batsman, Graham Lloyd and Nick Speak (2,000 runs and no A tour last year?) have similar promise, Peter Martin is an emerging seamer, Glen Chapple an 18-year-old fast bowler with very good prospects.
NIGEL BRIERS (Leicestershire)
1 Four-day cricket will expose the weaker sides and favour the stronger squads so Essex will not be far away. Somerset, with Mushtaq, could be interesting outsiders while Northants, a very good batting side with a strong seam attack, must be in with a shout, especially in one-day competitions.
2 Caddick and Lathwell are two to look for and McCague is a very good prospect.
3 We will be looking to Ben Smith to show his batting ability and I'd like to think that Alan Mullally, our left-arm pace bowler, will push on. He has shown impressive form in pre-season and is still maturing.
MIKE GATTING (Middlesex)
1 It looks like being a fairly open race and those who have won it before should be there or thereabouts. With their varied attack and Lathwell coming on, Somerset could be interesting.
2 Windows, a hard-hitting batsman from Gloucestershire who has impressed for the England Under-19 side.
3 Mark Ramprakash.
ALLAN LAMB (Northants)
1 The side to beat, as ever, will be Essex. The four-day format means spin will play a great part and, in Peter Such and John Childs, they have two very fine examples. In that respect Middlesex, who have Phil Tufnell and John Emburey, could also prosper.
2 I can honestly say I have not seen anyone who has taken my eye.
3 Mal Loye, an England Under-19 cap who has been pushing for the first team for some time. He can bat anywhere in the order.
TIM ROBINSON (Notts)
1 Essex have a proven record, but of the possible challengers Warwickshire appeal as a well-balanced side.
2 Caddick is going to come through and it would be no surprise if he gets full England honours. Lathwell is another to watch.
3 Mark Saxelby will do well with the bat if he can get fully fit after his back operation.
CHRIS TAVARE (Somerset)
1 Essex are always very strong but Kent had a very good year in 1992. Always an aggressive batting side, their bowling is very strong now too. They could do well in the Championship and limited overs, although Lancashire will be strong contenders in the latter with Wasim Akram back.
2 Graham Thorpe was one of the few players to come out of the A tour with his reputation intact. He is gaining experience and maturity and has not had a chance to show his best at the top level.
3 Adrianus van Troost is a very good prospect as a genuine fast bowler. He has been a bit more consistent pre-season and I look forward to seeing him progress.
ALEC STEWART (Surrey)
1 We believe we're good enough to win everything, but if you want me to nominate someone else, Essex and Kent look strong four-day sides, while Lancashire should be highly effective in the one-dayers.
2 John Crawley of Lancashire, a technically accomplished batsman with a fine temperament.
3 Mark Butcher, our 2nd XI Player of the Year last year. An extremely promising all-rounder, especially with the bat.
ALAN WELLS (Sussex)
1 You have to look seriously at Middlesex and Essex because they're used to winning, but Kent also have a very strong side, particularly in their batting, while McCague has emerged as a dangerous strike bowler. With Lathwell and Caddick improving all the time and Mushtaq coming aboard, Somerset are my outsiders.
2 Lathwell and Trevor Ward, the Kent opener, whose omission from the A tour baffled me.
3 Carlos Remy is improving all the time as a seam-bowling all-rounder.
DERMOT REEVE (Warwicks)
1 I'm tempted to nominate no one and say that we're concentrating on our own strengths rather than thinking about anyone else's but Nottinghamshire are a strong side with a good bowling attack.
2 Adrian Dale is a player worth keeping an eye on. He is an underestimated young batsman who plays the quick stuff pretty well and always gets runs against us.
3 Roger Twose, our Cricketer of the Year last summer, is already in fine form with the bat and the four-day game will help bring on Trevor Penney, who is also one of the finest fielders in the country.
TIM CURTIS (Worcestershire)
1 There seems no reason why the Essex formula should not work as well over four days although we'll see if the events of the winter have dented their confidence. Much will depend on Foster's fitness and Test calls. Lancashire and Somerset have a chance although the latter's will depend on Mushtaq being fit.
2 Crawley, who is as good a young batsman as I've seen lately, Alistair Brown, who impressed me last year, and Trevor Ward, who was unlucky not to go on tour.
3 I hope Phillip Weston, a very tight, mature and intelligent batsman who has captained England Under-19, will play a whole year after a good second half to last season.
MARTYN MOXON (Yorkshire)
1 There are probably six to eight teams who could win the Championship with Lancashire and Essex probably favourites. The signing of Dean Headley gives Kent greater strength. Dark horses might be Sussex, who have some good young players such as Ian Salisbury and have added the experience of Bill Athey.
2 I'll be interested to see how Lathwell does in his second season. He is a player of immense natural talent. Thorpe played particularly well in Australia and might make an impression.
3 Yorkshire have a lot of good young players emerging but I particularly like the look of Craig White, who played some magnificent innings last year.
Mark Lathwell, pictured here playing for England A against Essex, enters his second year for Somerset as the county captains' choice as the young player to follow this season. Hailed as David Gower's spiritual heir, the 21-year-old opening batsman flourished in Australia with England A after scoring 1,176 first-class runs last season. The young player to top our poll last year, Dominic Cork, won his first one-day international cap last summer. Mark Ramprakash, the choice in 1991, has won nine England caps, while Graham Thorpe (1990) is the only player to have been picked for all four England A tours.
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