Odds-on favourites to go down even before they lost their first six games last season, Worcestershire somehow defied history and circumstance to escape the relegation trap-door and temporarily at least lose their yo-yo tag. Can they survive again in 2012?
The knowledge that they can compete at this level ought to embolden a threadbare squad. If (and it's a big if) Phil Hughes can regain the form and confidence of his sojourn with Middlesex in 2009 then he will prove to be an inspired acquisition as overseas player. His fellow countryman Michael Klinger is a good choice until Hughes arrives. The seam attack is led by the experienced Alan Richardson - last season's leading wicket taker in Division 1.
If Hughes doesn't fire then big runs will be required from Vikram Solanki and Moeen Ali in what looks a slightly brittle and inexperienced batting order. The injury to Gareth Andrew will rule him out for the first couple of months, which means even more responsibility falls onto Richardson's shoulders - in fact he may as well change his name to Atlas. Unfortunately, Saeed Ajmal is only available for the T20.
If Alan Richardson can get close to the 73 wickets he managed in 2011, a sequel to the Great Escape could be on.
Look out for
Any adjustments Hughes has made to his game following his dismal exit from the Australian Test side. Dinner dates with Martin Guptill, who is playing for Derbyshire, are unlikely.
9th - We got it wrong last year, but surely Worcestershire don't have enough to stay up again? Our reputation as tipsters is already shot so we'd be delighted if they proved us wrong.
2011 County Cricket Review: including Heroes of the Season, Best and Worst XIs, and a whole host of other nonsense
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