2016 County Championship season: Yorkshire out for Division One hat-trick
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | April 8, 2016
Yorkshire aiming for Division One hat-trick
Only Yorkshire, Surrey and Lancashire have won three Division One County Championship titles in succession, and the former are aiming to be the first team to do so since they achieved it from 1966-1968 this season.
The 2016 county cricket season begins on Sunday, April 10th, with three fixtures to take place from each of the two leagues, though Jason Gillespie’s defending champions don’t kick off their campaign until the following week.
Yorkshire are 13/8 favourites with Coral to extend their record top-flight title total to 33 (plus one shared), and go up first against Hampshire, who narrowly avoided the drop last term.
But Warwickshire (11/2) and Nottinghamshire (6/1) are the famous cricketing county’s closest rivals according to the outright betting, and both have the chance to get themselves ahead when they play on the first weekend.
Hampshire and Division Two champions Surrey are their respective opening opposition, and they are both odds-on favourites to defeat them. In the other match starting on April 10th, meanwhile, Durham (8/11) take on Somerset (11/10).
Newly-promoted Lancashire join their bitter cross Pennines rivals Yorkshire in kicking off their campaign on April 17th, as do Middlesex.
Sussex favourites to bounce back from Division Two
In Division Two, Sussex are the 15/8 favourites to go straight back up as champions, while fellow relegated team Worcestershire joint-second in the market with Essex at 4/1.
All three counties feature on the opening weekend, against respective opponents Northamptonshire, Kent and Gloucestershire.
Leicestershire, 7/4 favourites to finish bottom, open against Welsh outfit Glamorgan the following week and can build on their two victories last season after managing none the previous two. Derbyshire face Gloucestershire in week two as well.
England stars in action for early season
A number of England stars will be available for their counties too, with the first Test of the summer not until May 19th when they face Sri Lanka.
That means Yorkshire will be able to call upon the quintet of Adil Rashid, Jonny Bairstow, David Willey, Gary Ballance and Liam Plunkett, on top of their already strong squad, though Joe Root won’t be available until May 1st.
The likes of England Test captain Alastair Cook (Essex), James Anderson (Lancashire), Mark Wood (Durham), James Taylor, Samit Patel (both Nottinghamshire), James Vince, Liam Dawson (both Hampshire), Jason Roy, Mark Footitt (both Surrey), Steven Finn and Nick Compton (Middlesex) are all able to play in their sides’ openers.
Though, Stuart Broad, Alex Hales (both Nottinghamshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Moeen Ali (Middlesex) and Chris Jordan (Sussex) will wait a bit longer to represent their clubs this season.
County Championship opening fixtures
Durham v Somerset (April 10th)
Hampshire v Warwickshire (April 10th)
Nottinghamshire v Surrey (April 10th)
Lancashire v Nottinghamshire (April 17th)
Middlesex v Warwickshire (April 17th)
Yorkshire v Hampshire (April 17th)
Worcestershire v Kent (April 10th)
Northamptonshire v Sussex (April 10th)
Essex v Gloucestershire (April 10th)
Glamorgan v Leicestershire (April 17th)
Gloucestershire v Derbyshire (April 17th)
Sussex v Essex (April 17th)