Reigning champions Essex 7/2 favourites for 2018 County Championship

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If there’s rain in the air then it must mean its time for the 2018 County Championship to begin.

Essex dominated proceedings last year, winning the title without losing a single match.

So it’s no surprise that Anthony McGrath’s men are 7/2 favourites to defend their crown.

Their squad boasts plenty of quality, with the likes of top batters Alistair Cook and county captain Ryan ten Doeschate allied to the bowling prowess of Peter Siddle and Neil Wagner.

Lancashire will be hoping to go one better than their second place last season.

Our traders have the Red Rose as 4/1 second-favourites, and they’ve boosted their squad with the signings of Graham Onions and Keaton Jennings from Durham.

And watch out for West Indies legend Shiv Chanderpaul, who is still going strong at 43-years-old.

Surrey and Yorkshire will also fancy their chances at 9/2 apiece.

The former have landed a coup with the acquisition of South African bowling ace Morne Morkel this week.

Yorkshire should be in the mix too, but their hopes have been hit with David Willey and Liam Plunkett being snapped up by the Indian Premier League with only days before the county season begins.

The odds suggest those four sides will lead the way this year.

Hampshire (13/2) will be hoping James Vince can start strongly after a business winter schedule with England.

The Rose Bowl outfit could cause a few surprises with Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn set to turn out for them at various points this year.

Nottinghamshire (7/1) make a welcome return to Division One.

Notts excelled in the shorter formats last season, winning both the One Day Cup and the T20 blast, but it remains to be seen if they can take that form into the County Championship.

Somerset (10/1) are a tough one to call following a topsy-turvy few years which has seen them flight with both the championship and relegation.

The Taunton side can still call upon the guile of Marcus Trescothick, and they’ll be hoping for a big year from Craig Overton.

Worcestershire round-off the eight contenders at 20/1.

They won Division Two last season, but have undergone a number of backroom changes since then, and their largely youthful squad could be in for a long season.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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