County Championship Division One at a Glance: Part Two

With the start of the 2024 Vitality County Championship now just days away, we thought we would take a look at the teams that Somerset will be competing against for the Division One title this summer.


Captain: Haseeb Hameed
Head Coach: Peter Moores
2023 finish: Sixth (Division One)
2023 highest run-scorer: Joe Clarke (1,053)
2023 highest wicket-taker: Brett Hutton (62)

What can we expect?: With Stuart Broad retired, club legend Patel moving on, Mullaney effectively calling time on his senior career and Alex Hales prioritising other commitments over the Blast, it feels like the end of an era at Trent Bridge. The big question is how smoothly they can transition to a new one while two new captains simultaneously try to find their feet. Whether Haynes, only 23, can make the impact many believe he can at a higher level after five Championship hundreds in the last two seasons for Worcestershire. The classy right-hander should bed in well with two New Road colleagues making the switch with him. He has the potential to be Nottinghamshire’s most important winter signing.

Key winter moves: After Steven Mullaney’s switch to Second XI captain and player-coach, Haseeb Hameed skippers the red-ball side with Joe Clarke leading in T20. Samit Patel and Jake Ball depart, while fast bowler Dillon Pennington, England quick Josh Tongue (currently injured) and young batter Jack Haynes arrive from Worcestershire. New Zealand batter Will Young returns from mid-April until the end of the Blast.

One to watch: Ben Duckett was Bazballing even before it was a thing, but in his likely absence with England, Clarke or wicketkeeper-batter Tom Moores are the likeliest to take an up-tempo approach.

Final thought: How well Nottinghamshire have recruited will be measured by whether they can finish higher than last season’s sixth, which was a fair reflection of their level. How much they see of the talented speedster Tongue is open to question, given that England will have first call on him once his latest injury has healed, but Pennington and Haynes look sound acquisitions and Young adds some proven quality. Members will welcome the promotion of exciting homegrown prospect Freddie McCann to the senior squad too.


Captain: Rory Burns
Head Coach: Gareth Batty
2023 finish: Champions (Division One)
2023 highest run-scorer: Dom Sibley (746)
2023 highest wicket-taker: Jordan Clark and Dan Worrall (both 48)

What can we expect?: Can Surrey make it a hat-trick of titles after their triumphs of 2022 and last summer? Skipper Burns will actually be aiming for a fourth championship success in seven years, having led Surrey to the 2018 title in his own first season as captain, while Batty admits Alec Stewart’s decision to step down as long-serving director of cricket at the end of 2024 will only “add to our desire as a squad” to achieve the hat-trick as a tribute to the true Surrey (and England) great. A key feature of Surrey’s recent rise is the strength and depth of the homegrown core of their squad, with 10 of the 19 players who featured in championship cricket last summer qualifying on that count. Expect to see more evidence of that close-knit squad identity in this campaign.

Key winter moves: Dan Lawrence’s arrival from Essex is much anticipated at the Oval. Head coach Gareth Batty says: “Without taking anything away from the wonderful work Essex have done with him in his career so far, we feel we can help him to become an even better cricketer.” Expect, for instance, to see more of Lawrence’s idiosyncratic spin bowling as well as big runs.

One to watch: Jamie Smith, a stylish and powerful 23-year-old with all the shots, will be looking to go up another gear after 736 championship runs last season with two hundreds and four fifties cemented his place in a multi-talented batting line-up.

Final thought: Surrey’s dominance in recent seasons has been based on relentless fast-bowling power and a batting order of enviable depth. In 2023, while the overall batting effort might have been better, no fewer than 16 different players scored at least one championship half-century (from 33 in all) while six of them also featured in a total of nine hundreds. Much more impressive, though, were the records of a magnificent seven-strong seam attack: Clark and Worrall’s 48 wickets apiece came at an average of 21.35 and 24.20 respectively, followed by Tom Lawes (39 at 19.76), Sean Abbott (37 at 24.78), Kemar Roach (26 at 26.26), Gus Atkinson (20 at 20.20) and Jamie Overton (14 at 24.64).


Captain: Alex Davies
Head Coach: Mark Robinson
2023 finish: Fourth (Division One)
2023 highest run-scorer: Sam Hain (706)
2023 highest wicket-taker: Olly Hannon-Dalby (54)

What can we expect?: A seam-attack of the highly-skilled Olly Hannon-Dalby and Chris Rushworth (107 wickets between them last season) assisted by charismatic overseas star Hasan Ali and the fast-improving Ed Barnard with, who knows, perhaps the occasional pinch of Chris Woakes stirred into the mix. Which direction will Warwickshire take after an erratic 2023 red-ball season which brought some brilliant days and some very poor ones? Rhodes’ departure as captain caused some disappointment among the fans who will be hoping that the focus of leadership helps Davies to improve a batting average of 27.15 for the Bears in first-class cricket.

Key winter moves: Alex Davies has replaced Will Rhodes as captain, the latter having stepped down after an impressive tenure which included leading the side to the Championship title in 2021. Pakistan paceman Hasan Ali returns until at least the end of July to rejoin a seam attack which will be without Henry Brookes who has moved to Middlesex.

One to watch: Olly Hannon-Dalby – always hunting wickets with the ball, as shown by his 450 across the formats for Warwickshire, and increasingly effective as a polished, left-handed, lower-order hitter with a cover drive that has drawn comparison with David Gower.

Final thought: Warwickshire should have enough about them to stay out of relegation trouble. To challenge at the other end of the table they will need good fortune with injuries in the bowling department – 51% of their Championship wickets last season were taken by two men aged 34 and 37. They will also need considerably more match-shaping innings from their top order. Only Sam Hain and Rob Yates scored more than one Championship century for Warwickshire in 2023.


Captain: Brett D’Oliveira
Head Coach: Alan Richardson
2023 finish: Second (Division Two)
2023 highest run-scorer: Jake Libby (1153)
2023 highest wicket-taker: Joe Leach (48)

What can we expect?: Captain Brett D’Oliveira put the accent on playing positive cricket last summer, not being afraid to lose in a bid to force a win, and he has indicated there will be a similar approach in 2024 although recognising the difference in quality of the opposition. Can Worcestershire finally establish themselves as a top division county after years of see-sawing in between the two divisions. It is a massive challenge particularly after losing established players Dillon Pennington, Jack Haynes and Josh Tongue to Nottinghamshire but a tightly-knit squad will help them through what are bound to be some challenging days.

Key winter moves: Rob Jones will strengthen the top order batting after his move from Lancashire on a three-year contract. All-rounder Tom Taylor from Northamptonshire will primarily add depth to the bowling department after penning a four-year move. New Zealand all-rounder Nathan Smith, leading wicket-tasker in the Plunket Shield, is available all summer for all formats.

One to watch: Kashif Ali played several destructive innings last summer, most notably his 88 off 36 balls in a Metro Bank One-Day Cup match against Derbyshire, and the signing from the South Asian Cricket Academy is capable of more similar heroics in 2024.

Final thought: Asley Giles has brought a positivity to the club in his role as CEO and quickly earned the support and respect of players, coaches and members alike despite his long-standing Warwickshire connections. He is aware of the demanding task ahead in trying to finish above the bottom two but there is a belief that Worcestershire can at least compete in Division One.