Durham will be looking for their third successive County Championship
The 2010 season marks yet another new era for county cricket, with fewer competitions, but more days of scheduled action.
In the County Championship, which has been largely unaffected by the revamp, Durham will be looking to win their third successive Division One title but will be hotly pursued by Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Lancashire.
In Division Two, Sussex, three-time county champions between 2003 and 2007, will have to adjust to life outside the top flight and contend with big-spending Surrey.
The expanded Twenty20 competition will see teams competing for a place in the finals day at The Rose Bowl, but a clash with the end of the English season means a lucrative spot in the Champions League may not be on offer.
The only Lord's final on offer will come in 40-over cricket, which has been preferred to the 50-over format. The new competition will see the 18 counties and Scotland, the Netherlands and the ECB Unicorns recreational side split into three seven-team leagues, with the winners and best placed runner-up contesting the semi-finals.
DERBYSHIRE by BBC Radio Derbyshire's Charles Collins
Captain: Chris Rogers
Overseas player: Chris Rogers (Australia), Loots Bosman (South Africa, for Twenty20)
Who's the key man? Much will again be expected of captain and overseas player Chris Rogers. Last season it became a trend that if Rogers fired, so too did Derbyshire, particularly in the Twenty20 Cup, where unacceptable expectations were placed on the Aussie. Derbyshire also need a bowler to perform - Charl Langeveldt was badly missed last year and they need Graham Wagg, Steffan Jones or Tom Lungley to step up.
Who's the one to watch? It is hard to choose between batsmen Wayne Madsen and Chesney Hughes. Madsen, a former South Africa hockey international, impressed last season after signing a two-year deal with the club and could be in line for a 1,000-run campaign, while Hughes, still a teenager, looks set to impress as well.
How will they do in the Championship? The team has been gelling and coach John Morris has slowly been building up the depth of talent. They are capable of mounting a promotion challenge in Division Two, if they can take enough wickets to turn draws into wins.
What about the shorter stuff? Inconsistency was a big problem last season, but Derbyshire do have the players to challenge. Wagg is capable of bowling tight overs and hitting big runs, while fellow all-rounder Greg Smith could be the next South African-born England international.
Overseas player: Albie Morkel (South Africa, for Twenty20)
Who's the key man? Votes for last summer's player of the year were split between Michael Di Venuto and Ian Blackwell, with coach Geoff Cook often pointing to Blackwell's left-arm spin as a key reason why Durham managed to manoeuvre themselves into winning positions in games when draws looked most likely. My vote would have gone to Di Venuto, who scored 1600 first-class runs at an average of 80. Of the pacemen, the apparent end of Steve Harmison's England career can only be good for Durham, but Graham Onions and Liam Plunkett may often be away on international duty.
Who's the one to watch? Young leg-spinner Scott Borthwick has wintered in New Zealand and possesses the ability to impress for a county that is more used to producing fast bowlers. Had to ensure the trauma of being hit for five sixes in one Pro40 over by Essex's James Foster last season, but recovered to make his first-class debut against Hampshire in September.
How will they do in the County Championship? It's unlikely that they will repeat last year's feat of going through the season unbeaten, but I can see them equalling the Yorkshire side of the 1960s and winning three titles in a row. It is surprising that they haven't signed anyone, but it would take a special cricketer to improve last year's side.
What about the shorter stuff? Last year's struggles in the FP Trophy continued into the Twenty20 before a spirited fightback saw them qualify from the group, only to be thrashed by Kent in the quarter-finals. Cook used one-day cricket to give experience to some of his younger players and Durham should be a better one-day side for it this year.
Overseas player: Danish Kaneria (Pakistan, for first three months of season but not arriving until 29 April)
Who's the key man? Unsurprisingly, Ravi Bopara fell from favour with the England selectors last summer after averaging only 15 in seven innings against the Australians, compared to 118 against West Indies. He has undoubted class and, with his attempts to demonstrate that he also has the right temperament to win back his place at international level, Essex could well gain from his endeavours.
Who's the one to watch? Former England Under-19 international Tom Westley made enormous progress last year and could become a major influence. The 21-year-old averaged almost 43 in Championship cricket in 2009 and matured with every innings. His contributions in both innings in the final match at Derby ultimately won Essex promotion and his useful off-spin could also be important following the departure of James Middlebrook.
How will they do in the County Championship? Realistically, Essex will do exceptionally well to avoid relegation from Division One. The batting looks fairly solid but, with the bowling likely to depend heavily on David Masters and Chris Wright, who took 85 Championship wickets between them last season, and Danish Kaneria only available for a limited period, the attack would seem to lack the depth to penetrate most top-flight line-ups.
What about the shorter stuff? For several years, Essex have been far better equipped for the limited-overs game with Ryan ten Doeschate and Graham Napier both capable of spectacular performances with bat and ball, while wicketkeeper James Foster averaged well over 80 in one-day cricket last year. The support from the Essex crowds is always tremendous and I'm sure they will have plenty to cheer about this season.
Overseas player: Mark Cosgrove (Australia); Shaun Tait (Australia, for Twenty20)
Who's the key man? A full season of Aussie opener Mark Cosgrove should be worth the entrance money, after last season's job-share with Herschelle Gibbs. Cosgrove averaged 60 in the Championship but did not reproduce his explosive talents regularly enough in the shorter forms. An hour or even less of his hitting in full flow can swing any limited-overs game.
Who's the one to watch? A lot of the seam-bowling responsibility will rest on the shoulders of young all-rounder James Harris, who has been on the fringe of the England set-up. But, without the pace of Garnett Kruger, Harris will need consistent support from the likes of Adam Shantry and David Harrison if Glamorgan are to improve their Championship form.
How will they do in the County Championship? A bizarre year in 2009 saw Glamorgan foiled by weather problems and last-wicket defiance far too often for the blood pressure of their supporters. The headline stat of 12 draws in 16 games hid a number of positive near-misses, but with Jamie Dalrymple, Gareth Rees and Mike Powell all capable of piling on the runs again, a few marginal improvements from the bowlers could lead to another promotion push.
What about the shorter stuff? The signing of Aussie speed star Shaun Tait should produce a few Twenty20 fireworks, but the less glamorous acquisitions of Jim Allenby and David Brown will both have to contribute with bat and ball. Hopefully Dean Cosker and Robert Croft will continue their spin double act, Mark Wallace will find ever more improbable shots and Tom Maynard will be more hit than miss. Capable of beating or losing to anyone as usual, we presume.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE by BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Ian Randall
Captain: Alex Gidman
Overseas player: James Franklin (New Zealand)
Who's the key man? Former New Zealand batsman Hamish Marshall has proven his class both at international level and during his time at Nevil Road. He did however, have a poor 2009, failing to make 1000 first-class runs despite playing in every County Championship match. After a solitary first-class hundred last summer, he needs to convert more of his starts into big scores.
Who's the one to watch? Left-arm spinner Vikram Banerjee spent three weeks with the England Performance Programme over the winter and has the talent to make the breakthrough. The pitches at Bristol do not greatly encourage spin, so he is likely to bowl more overs away from home.
How will they do in the County Championship? A squad of only 18 players leaves little room for injuries or loss of form. If Jon Lewis and Steve Kirby can take another 100 wickets between them and the batting - bolstered by Jonathan Batty's arrival from Surrey - can show some consistency, they may be an outside bet for promotion from Division Two.
What about the shorter stuff? Under the coaching of John Bracewell, Gloucestershire should be competitive in one-day cricket, especially the 40-over format. They struggled to make an impression in the Twenty20 Cup in 2009 and a significant improvement is likely to be a major target, especially given the expansion of the competition.
Overseas player: Rangana Herath (Sri Lanka, first part of season); Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka, second half of season), Shahid Afridi (Pakistan, for Twenty20), Abdul Razzaq (Pakistan, for Twenty20)
Who's the key man? Opener Neil McKenzie brings a wealth of experience to The Rose Bowl having played 58 Tests for South Africa. His mildly eccentric manner at the crease could become an irritant to opponents - he has a knack of batting for a long time.
Who's the one to watch? Isle of Wight-born paceman David Griffiths was Hampshire's quickest bowler last summer and was attracting the attentions of other counties at the end of the season. He should benefit from Chris Tremlett's move to Surrey, with more responsibility placed on his shoulders this time around.
How will they do in the Championship? Better than last season. A lack of first-innings runs could be aided by McKenzie and if Michael Carberry is fit and not required by England, then he should contribute too. New arrival Kabir Ali has the class to add runs and wickets, while Simon Jones could win matches single-handedly if he manages to get on the pitch.
What about the shorter stuff? Hampshire make no secret of the fact that they want to at least make Twenty20 finals day, which is being held at the The Rose Bowl. All-rounders Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq have been brought in solely for this competition, which will make Hampshire a more potent force. Add to that the explosive batting of Michael Lumb, Sean Ervine and Dimi Mascarenhas and not many teams have the potential to score more runs.
Overseas player: Malinga Bandara (Sri Lanka, from 20 May)
Who's the key man? If captain Rob Key continues with the form he showed last season this, combined with his tactical trickery, should mean a bountiful year for Kent.
Who's the one to watch? Batsman Sam Northeast matured throughout 2009, carrying his bat to score his maiden century for the county in the last Championship game of the season. He has all the attributes to follow his run bonanza for England's Under-19s with a place in the senior national side.
How will they do in the County Championship? Many of the side that suffered Kent's first relegation in 2008 are still at Canterbury and most of that squad would rather chew their own arms off than go through it again. The batting line-up is as solid as an oak table, so their final league placing may well depend on how many games Kent's injury-prone strike bowlers - Amjad Khan and Robbie Joseph - get through. The title might be pushing it even if they stay fit, but a top-three finish is a possibility.
What about the shorter stuff? They will miss the all-round talents of Ryan McLaren, but Kent are a formidable one-day side and have a great chance of a fourth consecutive Twenty20 finals day appearance. Darren Stevens may well have been genetically engineered to play the shortest form of the game.
Overseas player: Ashwell Prince (South Africa, first part of season), Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka, after Prince departs)
Who's the key man? Evergreen seamer Glen Chapple is pretty much Mr Lancashire these days and 18 years since making his debut for the Red Rose is embarking on his second season as captain. Is a proven wicket-taker and his leadership will benefit from the experience of last summer and having worked for a full winter with coach Peter Moores.
Who's the one to watch? Australian-born batsman Paul Horton could have a terrific summer. He wants to try and force his way into the England reckoning and, if he continues the improvement he has made over the past year, that cannot be ruled out.
How will they do in the County Championship? With no title for 76 years, Lancashire will again make the County Championship their number one priority this season. There is a freshness about the side and in Moores they clearly have one of the game's top coaches. Beating last year's fourth-placed finish is most definitely a target and they look likely to be in the race for the title right to the end of the season.
What about the shorter stuff? Lancashire are the most successful one-day side in the country, but the Twenty20 Cup has so far evaded their capture. They have consistently done well in the shortest form of the game, but a runners-up spot in 2005 represents their best finish. After winning eight out of their 10 group games last season, a quarter-final defeat by Hampshire still rankles, meaning Lancashire have unfinished business here.
LEICESTERSHIRE by BBC Radio Leicestershire's Charles Dagnall
Captain: Matthew Hoggard
Overseas player: Andrew McDonald (Australia), Brad Hodge (Australia, for Twenty20)
Who's the key man? Leicestershire won the race to sign paceman Matthew Hoggard after his release by Yorkshire and promptly named him captain. As an experienced and durable bowler who still has the class to perform at county level, a lot will rest on his shoulders but he should be a notch above the current crop of seamers at Grace Road.
Who's the one to watch? Diminutive batsman James Taylor won a sun hat full of awards last summer and earned a spot on the England Lions tour in the winter. Will he continue to impress or suffer the dreaded second season syndrome? My money is on the former. Also, Australian all-rounder Andrew McDonald was unused on the last Ashes tour but has torn up trees down under. He will be very good.
How will they do in the County Championship? I think for the first time in a long time the Foxes will be involved at the top end of Division Two. I'm not guaranteeing promotion, but with an experienced, strong bowling attack, taking 20 wickets should be a probability rather than possibility. My concern is getting enough runs to let the bowlers attack. Will Jefferson has much to prove and will be eager to recapture his Essex form, but have they adequately replaced Boeta Dippenaar and HD Ackerman? Lets hope the other youngsters like Greg Smith and Josh Cobb follow Taylor's example.
What about the shorter stuff? This is where I think the Foxes are most likely to win silverware this season. In both 40-over and 20-over cricket their attack can be miserly, with spinners Claude Henderson and Jigar Naik both having a huge role to play. The Twenty20 is where Leicestershire have the strongest chance, with the return of former overseas player Brad Hodge. The Australian is still a class batsman and his bowling gives them the three spinners they fielded when they won the competition in 2004 and 2006.
Overseas player: Iain O'Brien (New Zealand); Adam Gilchrist (Australia, for group stages of Twenty20); David Warner (Australia for Twenty20)
Who's the key man? Paceman Tim Murtagh has consistently taken wickets for the club and his form and fitness will be crucial. If Murtagh were to sustain a serious injury, then a heavy weight would be left on the young shoulders of Steven Finn, who may also be absent on England duty, and new recruits Pedro Collins and Iain O'Brien.
Who's the one to watch? There are a number of players to look out for, including Sam Robson and Adam London, but young Irish batsman Paul Stirling could also make a break through this season. He announced himself with some wonderful cameo roles in the Ireland team and has the potential to push his way up the pecking order quickly.
How will they do in the County Championship? Middlesex have been slow starters in the Championship since their relegation from Division One and that is something they will hope to rectify this season. They have rallied in previous years to improve their final standing but failed to fulfil the pre-season expectations of challenging for a promotion spot. The competition will be tough for a top-two spot but Udal will hope to at least be in the running come the final few weeks of the season.
What about the shorter stuff? Having won the Twenty20 two seasons ago, Middlesex will hope to rediscover their form in the shortest form of the game. They have proven match winners in Owais Shah, Eoin Morgan and Dawid Malan and, with the additions of Adam Gilchrist and David Warner, they should be one of the stronger teams with the bat. Some of the better performances last season came over 40 and 50 overs last season, so they will be hopeful of building on that in the 40-over league this time around.
NORTHANTS by BBC Radio Northamptonshire's Andrew Radd
Captain: Nicky Boje
Overseas player: Elton Chigumbura (Zimbabwe)
Who's the key man? Left-arm seamer David Lucas claimed 60 first-class wickets last season and Northants are hoping for more of the same from him this time around following the departure of Johannes van der Wath. Lucas and new overseas signing Elton Chigumbura will need to make inroads with the new ball, backed up by the likes of David Wigley and Andrew Hall.
Who's the one to watch? All-rounder David Willey, the 20-year-old son of former England stalwart and Test umpire Peter, enjoyed a rapid rise at the start of the 2009 campaign, moving up from the academy to the first team in a single leap last April. His accurate bowling was a factor in Northants' run to the semi-finals of the Twenty20 Cup and he'll be keen to cement a regular place in both the Championship and one-day line-ups.
How will they do in the County Championship? Head coach David Capel points out that Northants were a single point away from gaining promotion for Division Two last summer, playing the brand of attacking cricket that he's promoted since taking over from Kepler Wessels in 2006. The batting looks solid enough with Mal Loye returning to the fold and David Sales fit again, but a relatively small squad this year means they will need some luck avoiding injuries - especially among the bowlers.
What about the shorter stuff? This is where success is more likely, but the U-turn on Virender Sehwag's move to Northants is a huge blow. However, the squad is still well equipped to succeed in the shorter forms of the game, with the one-day nous of Loye, Sales, skipper Nicky Boje and Ireland's Niall O'Brien all at Capel's disposal.
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE by BBC Radio Nottingham's Dave Bracegirdle
Captain: Chris Read
Overseas player: Hashim Amla (South Africa, for early part of season); David Hussey (Australia, after Indian Premier League finishes); Dirk Nannes (Australia, for Twenty20)
I am fitter than ever - Patel
Who's the key man? The absence of England internationals Swann, Broad and Sidebottom will thrust the spotlight on Samit Patel. A hard-hitting batsman and tidy left-arm spinner, he claims to have worked hard on his fitness over the winter in a bid to force his way back into the national side. There's no doubting that the has the talent to succeed at the highest level but he will need to perform for Notts before he can think about England.
Who's the one to watch? Having turned in several outstanding performances in 2009, both Alex Hales and Luke Fletcher will be looking to establish themselves in 2010. Both 21, Hales is a quick-scoring top-order batsman, while Fletcher is a tall, brisk bowler who has the ability to score lower-order runs.
How will they do in the County Championship? Having finished as runners-up to Durham in each of the last two campaigns, Chris Read's side have established a platform from which to build another title challenge in 2010. A fully-fit Darren Pattinson returns to lead the pace attack, while with David Hussey unavailable until after the IPL and ICC World Twenty20, Hashim Amla's penchant for making big hundreds should get Notts off to a good start.
What about the shorter stuff? Nottinghamshire have failed to get out of the group stages in each of the last two Twenty20 campaigns - a poor return on the talent at their disposal. The batting will be led by Hussey, Patel and Ally Brown, while left-arm paceman Dirk Nannes will boost the bowling. The 40-over campaign, taking place throughout the whole summer, will have less consistency of selection but there's no doubting that skipper Read would relish the trip to Lord's.
Overseas player: Damien Wright (Australia, first month of season); Murali Kartik (India, after Indian Premier League finishes); Cameron White (Australia, for Twenty20); Kieron Pollard (West Indies, for Twenty20)
Who's the key man? England's loss continues to be Somerset's massive gain. Marcus Trescothick was the Professional Cricketers' Association's player of the year in 2009 and it was well merited. He scored nearly 3,000 runs in all competitions and remains one of the most destructive batsman on the circuit. The hope is that the added responsibility of the captaincy won't affect his performance.
Who's the one to watch? Batsman Nick Compton looks to be an excellent signing from Middlesex, fitting into a top three that has lost Justin Langer. His one-day record last year was impressive and he should get a chance to improve his four-day performance on some excellent Taunton wickets.
How will they do in the County Championship? Having never won the competition, this remains Somerset's Holy Grail but they have been in the chasing pack for the last two years. Bowling teams out twice at Taunton remains a problem, though the addition of Indian spinner Murali Kartik could go some way to rectifying that.
What about the shorter stuff? It will be hard to match last year's form with Somerset runners-up in both the Twenty20 Cup and the Pro40 Division One, and quarter-finalists in the FP Trophy. Subject to clearance, Cameron White and Kieron Pollard will be on board for the T20, to join the likes of Trescothick, Peter Trego and Craig Kieswetter in a thumping batting line-up. The windows in the new apartments at the County Ground will be under threat.
Overseas player: Rao Iftikhar Anjum (Pakistan, for first three County Championship games); Piyush Chawla (India, after Indian Premier League finishes); Andrew Symonds (Australia, for Twenty20)
Who's the key man? Named captain at just 22, Rory Hamilton - Brown will be leading a new-look squad into the 2010 season. He has already made a positive impression in the dressing room since coming back to Surrey at the beginning of the year and it will be fascinating to see the brand of cricket he wants his side to play develop over the coming months.
Who's the player to watch? Another new arrival, wicketkeeper Steven Davies will be looking for a big summer to enhance his England credentials. Scored a classy hundred on Surrey debut against Cambridge MCCU over Easter and has the technique for both the longer and shorter formats of the game. He will be looking forward to working with the Surrey bowlers and a new captain from behind the stumps.
How will they do in the County Championship? As with any side we will know more after the first six weeks of the season, but it will be very interesting to see how their game develops in the Championship. Cricket manager Chris Adams has plenty of options too and even though there will be the usual pressures of a domestic season, he will want his squad to concentrate on what is in front of them and not look too far ahead.
How will they do in the shorter stuff? They will have a god run in one of the two competitions. Surrey look to have a nicely-balanced squad for the shorter forms of the game and seem to have all their bases covered. In the Twenty20 especially, if a side gets on a good run then anything can happen and Surrey have the players - including explosive all-rounder Andrew Symonds - to make that happen.
Overseas player: Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (Pakistan, for early part of season) Yasir Arafat (Pakistan, after ICC World Twenty20); Dwayne Smith (West Indies, for Twenty20); Brendon McCullum (New Zealand, for Twenty20)
Who's the key man? Sussex's halcyon days of three County Championships in five years centred around the match-winning exploits of leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed and they have turned to quality English spin in the shape of Monty Panesar this season. The left-armer took only 18 wickets last season, but a new environment could kick-start his career. If free from England duty, Luke Wright's all-round contributions will be also be invaluable.
Who's the one to watch? The retirement of Carl Hopkinson and Rory Hamilton-Brown's move to Surrey should mean an extended run in the team for Joe Gatting, who showed enormous promise when given his chance in the final two four-day games of last season. He looks to have something about him and Sussex will be hoping that potential materialises.
How will they do in the County Championship? The drop to Division Two is something of a step into the unknown after eight years in the top flight, but the hope will be that an ineffective bowling attack from the past two years is negated by the drop in standard. Captain Mike Yardy, Chris Nash and Wright have built their careers in the top division so should flourish in Division Two, while Murray Goodwin cannot have another season as bad as 2009.
What about the shorter stuff? The absences of both Hamilton-Brown and Dwayne Smith - plus the international commitments of Wright and Matt Prior - will limit Sussex's firepower in the 40-over game, but they lacked it before and managed to succeed. Much will depend on the availability of Yasir Arafat in both limited overs competitions, but Smith's signing for Twenty20 cricket, plus the addition of Brendon McCullum as a late replacement for Tillakaratne Dilshan, suggests another successful summer could lie ahead.
WARWICKSHIRE by BBC Coventry & Warwickshire's Clive Eakin
Captain: Ian Westwood
Overseas player: Imran Tahir (Pakistan) - subject to fitness tests and work permit
Who's the key man? Nomadic leg-spinner Imran Tahir is an experienced leg-spinner who has had spells with Middlesex, Hampshire and Yorkshire. Pakistan-born but never called up to the national side, he was picked by South Africa during England's recent tour but was eventually left out due to doubts over his eligibility.
Who's the one to watch? It could be a big year for Boyd Rankin. The Irish paceman made a good impression last summer and it will be interesting to see how he performs in his second season at Edgbaston. Young spinner Paul Best should also be one to watch if he gets an opportunity.
How will they do in the County Championship? A fifth-placed finish in Division One may have flattered the Bears a little and a similar placing this season would be a decent effort. The squad has undergone a major overhaul since the wretched 2008 season and has steadily improved under the guidance of Ashley Giles and his backroom team. The new points system means they may need to be more adventurous when chasing wins. Let's be bold and predict third place.
What about the shorter stuff? Warwickshire have always looked good in Twenty20 cricket but keep tripping at the quarter-final stage. Surely they can avoid that fate this season. The decision to take Pro40 Division Two seriously last season paid dividends and ended in winning the title. The Bears will be as ready as anyone for the new 40-over competition.
WORCESTERSHIRE by BBC Hereford & Worcester's Dave Bradley
Captain: Vikram Solanki
Overseas player: Phil Jaques (Australia, first half of season), Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh, from July onwards, subject to completion of visa arrangements), Steve Smith (Australia, for Twenty20 - subject to clearance from Cricket Australia)
Who's the key man? Captain Vikram Solanki will be leading a very inexperienced side following the departure of a host of key players. At times last season he was let down by a number of his senior men and he will be hoping for a better spirit in the dressing room this time around. His runs will also be vital following the exits of both Stephen Moore and Steven Davis.
Who's the one to watch? Young all-rounder Richard Jones almost left New Road two winters ago but got into the side last summer and took a career-best 6-100 against Warwickshire. Spent the winter with the England Performance Programme in South Africa and is eager to play a full part in the season.
How will they do in the County Championship? If they get into the promotion race it will be a surprise as a long, tough season for the youngsters awaits. But if senior players Daryl Mitchell, Ben Smith, Matt Mason, Alan Richardson and Solanki can stay fit, they might surprise a few people.
What about the shorter stuff? Worcestershire do not have a great record in one-day cricket, as last summer's defeat by Ireland proved, but director of cricket Steve Rhodes thinks they will do well this year. Australian batsman Phil Jacques will be with them for the first part of the season and his ability to get quick runs will be a boost, while late arrival Shakib Al Hasan is rated as the world's number one all-rounder in one-day international cricket.
Overseas player: Daryl Tuffey (New Zealand, for first part of season - although he may not be available after breaking his hand in March); Ryan Harris (Australia, after Indian Premier League finishes, although Cricket Australia have asked Yorkshire to rest him until the end of May); Herschelle Gibbs (South Africa, for Twenty20)
Who's the key man? Newly-appointed skipper Andrew Gale is a talented, hard-hitting batsman but it is his captaincy that could be crucial. He has vowed to play bold, exciting cricket to try and end Yorkshire's now perennial struggle against relegation.
Who's the one to watch? Paceman Ajmal Shahzad has forced his way into the England squad and has a major role play for the Tykes, especially now that Matthew Hoggard has left for Leicestershire. Shahzad is a fine late-order batsman and his pace could unsettle some in county cricket.
How will they do in the County Championship? The four-day game has been a struggle, with much depending on whether England come calling as Yorkshire have a fine crop of young players who are attracting interest from the national selectors. If they manage a top-four finish they will be delighted, as progress will have been made.
What about the shorter stuff? Success is long overdue, but more consistency is needed. The signing of South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs is a huge boost and they may well make finals day for the first time if he produces the goods.
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