The Guardian – This April morning, like so many before, a couple of hundred young men woke with their hearts thumping, their bathroom reflections questioning every dry-mouthed gulp of anticipation and fear.
- For counties big and small, there will also be doubts: will the new signings, only ever chosen with as much whim as certainty, work; will the weather be kind; will England whip away their stars; will the eyes and knees of the trusty stalwart hold out for just one more year?
- Out on the pitch, we have six cracking contests – Hampshire, boosted by Sam Northeast and Hashim Amla, play promoted Worcestershire at the Ageas Bowl; Lancashire take on Nottinghamshire at Old Trafford; and at the plum tie at Headingley champions Essex spearheaded by Jamie Porter, freshly crowned Wisden Cricketer of the Year, take on the Yorkies, still smarting from the last-minute losses of Liam Plunkett and David Willey to the IPL and without their Voice of Cricket, legendary broadcaster Dave Callaghan who died last month aged 63.
- Two young’uns to watch: Yorkshire’s Harry Brook who captained England’s U-19 World Cup side, and had a good tournament despite being dropped for a misdemeanour off the field; and near-namesake, the strapping Henry Brookes of Warwickshire, who was injured out of the World Cup and is desperate to make up for lost time.
- The Lancashire top four: Haseeb Hameed, on whom so many hopes are pinned, Keaton Jennings, fresh from Durham, Alex Davies and new captain Liam Livingstone all have points to prove.
- Last year’s county blog superstar Will Macpherson has hopped across to a super new job at the Standard while Vithushan Ehantharajah has been snaffled by Cricbuzz for the summer.