With the curtain raiser of the English county season, MCC v Durham, underway, teams start to put their hard work into practice and make their dreams come true. In this blog I look at the counties chasing the County Championship title.

The three teams favourite for the championship are Durham, Yorkshire and Warwickshire. Durham as defending champions will be looking to defend their title without the services of Dale Benkenstien who has been one of Durham’s most important batters for years. Exciting young talents Scott Borthwick and Ben Stokes will be instrumental, however there is a high chance they will be away with England for most of season. Seamer Graham Onions should finally get his chance in the England team which would leave Durham short of wickets and needing unproven youngsters to step up to the mark.

Yorkshire will be looking to avenge their second place finish last season, and with probably the best seam attack in the country, consisting of Liam Plunkett, Jack Brooks, Ryan Sidebottom and one of Tim Bresnan or Steve Patterson with Moin Ashraf waiting in the wings, will have a strong chase. However there is a high possibility Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan will be away with England, which means youngsters such as Alex Lees and Will Rhodes will have to make the step and show their talents on the county level.

Warwickshire, champions in 2012, will look to bounce back from their fourth place finish last season by regaining the championship. With Jonathan Trott and Boyd Rankin available for the start of the season a fast start through April and May will be vital. Other major players will include captain Jim Troughton, Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke and Chris Woakes.

Other teams fighting for the championship are Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Sussex. Favourites to go down are the two promoted sides Lancashire, looking to renew their intense rivalry with Yorkshire and Northamptonshire who just do not have enough depth to their squad and rely on a couple of players to take the wickets and score the runs.

Next time I will focus on Division two and who are the favourites to win promotion to Division one.