In this blog, I look at the nine teams looking to escape from division two, and be in the race for the 2015 County Championship. The three favourites to go up are the two relegated sides, Derbyshire and Surrey along with Kent.
Surrey of course are probably the second biggest county, and will feel they belong in Division 1. With a new coach In South African Graeme Ford, Surrey have a fresh start and some big names with Graeme Smith set to captain the side and Kevin Pietersen with a point to prove. Surrey have a great blend of experience and youth, with Vikram Solanki and Chris Tremlett being joined by future stars such as batsmen Dominic Sibley and Jason Roy.
Derbyshire could struggle however, and are not certain to go straight back up. Last year Derbyshire relied heavily on Wayne Madsen and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to score the runs, and desperately need others to chip in. Derbyshire have a quality bowling attack with the likes of Tim Groenewald, John Clare and David Wainwright, and they will need to perform at their best if Derbyshire are to gain promotion.
Kent have been stuck in Division two for a while, however this season is their best chance yet to gain promotion. Rob Key, Darren Stevens and James Tredwell will be instrumental, however they have made a quality overseas signing in Doug Bollinger and a future England prospect in Daniel Bell-Drummond ready to prosper.
Hampshire will also put up a strong fight, however the likes of Essex, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Worcestershire are set yo struggle yet again, and will have to spring a major surprise if they are going to challenge for promotion.
Roll on 6th April.