We tipped them for relegation last season. They finished second and would have won the title but for a tremendous Hampshire rearguard on the final day of the season. We won't be making that mistake again. Or will we?
The seam attack is one of the best in the country with Chris Woakes, Boyd Rankin and Rikki Clarke all having outstanding seasons in 2011. The addition of Jeetan Patel as overseas player completes the bowling picture. On the batting front, Varun Chopra finally showed his talent last season whilst Ian Bell could feature more than usual given that he is not currently in England's limited overs squads.
Other than Chopra, none of the regular top six batsmen who will feature this season averaged above 35.50 last year. An injury or international call-up for Woakes or Rankin would seriously affect the potency of the bowling.
That Chris Woakes has fallen down the pecking order for England's limited overs squad is a surprise. If he can repeat his performances of last season with ball (56 wickets at 22) and bat (nearly 600 runs at 48), the Bears may punch above their weight again.
Look out for
The silky smooth skills of Bell on show in several championship games. His struggles against spin on slow Asian pitches are unlikely to be replicated once he returns to English shores.
4th - There or thereabouts but not good enough to win the title.
2011 County Cricket Review: including Heroes of the Season, Best and Worst XIs, and a whole host of other nonsense
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