County club-by-club guide 2013
The new county cricket season gets under way on Wednesday with Warwickshire looking to repeat last summer's Championship triumph
They start their title defence with a home game against Derbyshire, promoted as Division Two champions last season.
In the second tier, Lancashire and Worcestershire meet at Old Trafford, with both seeking an immediate return to the top flight.
The YB40 gets under way on 3 May, with the FL t20 starting on 26 June.
The BBC will have expanded live coverage this summer, featuring commentary on every day of every match, via the BBC Sport website.
Captain: Wayne Madsen
Overseas players: Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies); second player for FL t20 to be confirmed
How they did last season: Division Two champions in County Championship, fourth in CB40 group, fifth in FL t20 group.
Season prospects: Everyone at Derby is aware that most 'experts' are already writing off their chances of surviving in the top division and they head into the season with a grim determination to not only survive, but to thrive. With Chanderpaul, they have added a world-class batsman to the normally reliable duo of Madsen and Wes Durston, and another new signing, Billy Godleman, gets a chance to reboot his career. In limited-overs cricket, the amount of young talent coming through the Derbyshire ranks should see big improvements and a challenge for only a second quarter-final appearance in the Twenty20.
One to watch: One of the reasons for optimism is the many young players coming into the first-team picture this season. Batsman Dan Redfern should make more big strides, but I'm going to cheat and nominate two youngsters, all-rounders Alex Hughes and Peter Burgoyne. Neither will be automatic choices early, but I expect both to play a growing part as the season progresses.
By BBC Radio Derby's Charles Collins
Captain: Paul Collingwood
Overseas players: None
How they did last season: Sixth in County Championship Division One, fifth in CB 40 group, third in FL t20 group.
Season prospects: On paper, Durham still have one of the best squads in the country and when they apply themselves as a team, they can beat anyone. The weather proved a major problem last season with 23 days of action lost and over the winter the club have had to go cap in hand for millions of pounds in loans from a number of public bodies. Money is tight - hence no pre-season tour and, as yet, no overseas player. Durham are the only side not to go down since relegation went from three teams to two and I would settle for a mid-table finish. Chris Rushworth impressed greatly last summer and it will be nice to see how he continues this year, but, having lost the retired Michael Di Venuto, some may feel things look a bit thin on the batting front.
One to watch: With spinner Ian Blackwell retired, this is a season in which leg-spinner Scott Borthwick has a chance to fill the void and he will certainly get more overs. From a batting point of view, Keaton Jennings looks a great prospect. The South African was scoring runs for fun in the second team last season and already has a century this year against Durham University.
By BBC Newcastle's Martin Emmerson
Captain: James Foster
Overseas players: Rob Quiney (Australia), Shaun Tait (Australia, for FL t20 only)
How they did last season: Fifth in County Championship Division Two, fifth in CB40 group, third in FL t20 group.
Season prospects: Essex will have a strong-looking batting unit when they have everyone available, but with Owais Shah and Ryan ten Doeschate away on IPL duty and Alastair Cook taking a break at the start of the summer, they will be looking to Mark Pettini and Rob Quiney to provide the experience alongside youngsters of Tom Westley, Ben Foakes and Jaik Mickleburgh. Getting out of Division Two of the Championship has to be seen as a priority for a county which dominated in the 80s and early 90s. In the seam bowling department, Saj Mahmood has arrived to boost an attack which had previously been over-reliant on David Masters.
One to watch: Reece Topley arrived on the scene two years ago with a bang and Essex will want to continue his development. Tymal Mills is another exciting young fast bowler.
By BBC Essex's Glenn Speller
Captain: Mark Wallace (Championship), Marcus North (one-day)
Overseas players: Marcus North (Australia); Dirk Nannes (Australia, for T20)
How they did last season: Sixth in County Championship Division Two, sixth in CB40 Group B and fifth in FL t20 Midlands/West/Wales Group.
Season prospects: Glamorgan have now failed to win a trophy since 2004 and the barren spell has not been helped by England Lions strike bowler James Harris' decision to join Middlesex, but the arrival of quick bowler Dirk Nannes could make Glamorgan an outside bet for T20 success. Director of cricket Matthew Mott is in the final year of a three-year contract, having tried and failed to get the New Zealand national coach's job last year. He wants his team to make a faster start this season.
One to watch: New signing Murray Goodwin. He might be 40 but his experience of winning seven trophies with Sussex should add some much-needed steel to the batting department as his 48 centuries during 12 years on the south coast would suggest. All-rounder Graham Wagg has impressed in pre-season friendlies after missing much of last season with a foot injury. The former England A player could be a vital weapon in the Welsh county's armoury.
By BBC Wales' Richard Thomas and Richard Williams
Captain: Michael Klinger
Overseas players: Michael Klinger (Australia), Dan Christian (Australia, for Twenty20 only)
How they did last season: Bottom of County Championship Division Two, third in CB40 group, quarter-finalists in FL t20.
Season prospects: Gloucestershire have one of the smallest and least experienced squads in county cricket, and also lack a frontline spinner, so it will take all the skills of head coach John Bracewell and new captain Michael Klinger to keep them competitive. Much will depend on how Klinger finds combining captaincy with opening the batting, and how players such as Chris Dent, Liam Norwell and Ian Saxelby cope after injury troubles last season. The first phase of the County Ground development is under way, but at the moment Gloucestershire's resources are at full stretch and they would be regarded as outsiders for silverware this season.
One to watch: Chris Dent. The left-handed batsman missed the first half of last season with a broken finger, but was still the team's second highest run-scorer in the Championship. A versatile player, he can bowl occasional slow left-arm and keep wicket, but his batting is his strongest suit. At 22, he should learn a lot from opening with Klinger and, with two Championship hundreds already, a full summer could see him make 1,000 runs for the first time.
By BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Ian Randall
Captain: Jimmy Adams
Overseas players: George Bailey (Australia), Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan)
How they did last season: Fourth in County Championship Division Two, winners of CB40 and FL t20.
Season prospects: Trying to match winning two one-day trophies last season may be beyond Hampshire this campaign. However, the experience gained and the high-pressure games won along the way will stand the team in good stead. Hampshire will be the side to beat in the shorter formats but, while they will expect another good showing in the one-day competitions, it is the County Championship by which the season will be measured. They were happy to rebuild last season, but the pressure is on to regain the Division One status they lost in 2011.
One to watch: This is an important season for 23-year-old Liam Dawson in terms of establishing himself as a prominent member of the side. Dawson will be entrusted with the number three position in the Championship, with orders to 'bat long', having struggled as an opener in 2012 and being dropped down the order. His left-arm spin, which had fallen away badly, was more effective last year, doing much to keep Danny Briggs out of the side on green wickets. A successful season with both bat and ball in 2013 may see the all-rounder tipped for further honours, as he was a few seasons ago when captaining England Under-19s.
By BBC Radio Solent's Kevan James
Captain: James Tredwell
Overseas players: None (Brendan Nash has submitted an application to become a Kolpak player)
How they did last season: Third in County Championship Division Two, third in CB40 Group C, fourth in FL t20 South Group
Season prospects: Following near misses in all three competitions in 2012, Kent will hope to continue their progression under head coach Jimmy Adams. In stark contrast to the mass changes last season, it has been a stable winter at the St. Lawrence Ground, with the only major upheaval seeing James Tredwell replace Rob Key as captain. Promotion from Division Two must be the minimum goal and much will depend on Key scoring heavily at the top of the order, keeping their thin bowling attack fit and healthy, and minimising the impact of Tredwell's international duties.
One to watch: Sam Northeast. With Kent's plethora of youngsters another year wiser, it could be a big season for many of them, but 2012 was a real breakthrough for Northeast, the county's leading run scorer in all competitions. He looks to be living up to the hype of his England Under-19 days and if he continues to progress at his current rate in both formats of the game, he could be knocking on the door of the England Lions selectors come September.
By BBC Radio Kent's Ben Croucher
Captain: Glen Chapple
Overseas players: Simon Katich (Australia)
How they did last season: Eighth in Championship Division One (relegated), semi-finalists in CB40, fourth in FL t20 group.
Season prospects: Lancashire will start the season as one of the favourites for promotion back to Division One, probably alongside Hampshire and Kent. The Red Rose have made their intentions clear and with the additions of Simon Katich and Ashwell Prince to boast one of the most powerful batting line-ups. With Kabir Ali also coming in, assuming he stays fit, Lancashire will be confident of enough bowling firepower to take 20 wickets in a match. If Kyle Hogg can rediscover his form from the title-winning season in 2011, their attack, which also includes the evergreen Glen Chapple and one of the country's most talented spinners in Simon Kerrigan, should be good enough to enable them to compete not just for promotion, but for one-day silverware as well.
One to watch: Ashwell Prince. Having committed to a two-year contract as a Kolpak player, the experience and talent of the South African will be crucial in Lancashire's bid for promotion back to Division One. He held the batting line-up together in 2012 and has shown in his previous three spells with the county that a good overseas signing can have a huge beneficial impact, both on and off the pitch.
By BBC Radio Lancashire's Scott Read
Captain: Ramnaresh Sarwan (Championship), Josh Cobb (one-day)
Overseas players: Ranmnaresh Sarwan (West Indies), Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh, for FL t20), Joe Burns (Australia, for FL t20)
How they did last season: Seventh in County Championship Division Two 2, sixth in CB40 group, bottom of T20 group.
Season prospects: The outlook is brighter than in previous seasons, with some strong additions in the winter. Niall O'Brien could be the missing link in the top order and the emergence of Shiv Thakor provides more encouragement for supporters. However, they need a fit Matthew Hoggard to compete in the County Championship and, after two barren and injury-filled years, it is time for Nathan Buck to deliver on his promise. Josh Cobb leads the team in all one-day cricket and expect better this season, with Shakib Al-Hasan an exciting signing to help give a more youthful and energetic feel to the shorter forms of the game.
One to watch: Joe Burns, the Queensland batsman who replaces Sarwan in May, will be keen to show the Australia selectors his abilities in an Ashes summer, and James Sykes the left-arm spinner, who will try and take on the role from Claude Henderson. Sykes has a nice action, turns it and has steady control.
By BBC Radio Leicester's Charles Dagnall
Captain: Chris Rogers (for County Championship), Neil Dexter (for YB40 and FL t20)
Overseas players: Chris Rogers (Australia), Adam Voges (Australia, for FL t20)
How they did last season: Third in County Championship Division One, second in CB40 group, fifth in FL t20 group.
Season prospects: Middlesex could not have hoped for a better outcome last season on their return to Division One. Whether they can go even further this year will depend greatly on the consistency of their middle-order batting. The top three of Joe Denly, Sam Robson and Chris Rogers can be relied upon to offer a solid foundation at the top, while the depth of the bowling attack has been strengthened by the outstanding addition of James Harris from Glamorgan. They have struggled in T20 cricket in recent years and this is an area the county will be desperate to improve in.
One to watch: Toby Roland-Jones has performed with astonishing consistency since his relatively late debut. The emergence of the naggingly accurate seamer has helped to fill very big boots, now that Steven Finn is established in the England side. With the ever-reliable Tim Murtagh, the new recruit Harris and the occasional glimpse of Steven Finn, along with all-rounder Gareth Berg, Middlesex will have arguably the most feared bowling attack in the country.
By BBC London 94.9's Kevin Hand
Captain: Stephen Peters (Championship), Alex Wakely (YB40 and T20)
Overseas players: Trent Copeland (Australia, until 8 June), Cameron White (Australia, for Twenty20)
How they did last season: Eighth in County Championship Division Two, sixth in CB40 Group C and sixth in FLt20 Midlands/Wales/West Group.
Season prospects: A truly dismal showing in 2012, particularly in white-ball cricket, prompted an honest appraisal, led by chief executive David Smith and first-team coach David Ripley, of where the county are now and what they want to be in the future. Matthew Spriegel and Steven Crook have been signed to bolster a predominantly young squad, with much hoped of Rob Newton, David Willey, Ben Duckett and Ollie Stone. Ripley's top priority is to be competitive in all forms of the game, and a run to Twenty20 finals day would please both supporters and the holders of the purse strings.
One to watch: Fast bowler Ollie Stone impressed good judges with his pace and control last season and captained England Under-19s in South Africa during the winter. Only 19, he will need some careful handling, but if the Norfolk-born prospect stays fit, he could make a major impact.
By BBC Radio Northampton's Andrew Radd
Captain: Chris Read
Overseas players: Ed Cowan (Australia, start of season), David Hussey (Australia, from June, including Twenty20)
How they did last season: Fifth in County Championship Division One, fourth in CB40 group, FL t20 quarter-finalists
Season prospects: Nottinghamshire's strength in depth was severely tested towards the end of the 2012 campaign, with six players being called away for England duty. While the likelihood is that the international calendar will again cause clashes with the domestic programme, director of cricket Mick Newell believes his squad is better equipped to withstand occasional absenteeism from his star names. The bookmakers agree, listing Notts as second favourites for both the County Championship and the T20.
One to watch: Michael Lumb. His first season at Trent Bridge could not have gone much better, with 971 first-class runs, despite missing the last two matches, and a prolific white-ball season, which saw him restored to the England Twenty20 side before becoming the leading scorer in last October's Champions League. More of the same is expected in 2013.
By BBC Radio Nottingham's Dave Bracegirdle
Captain: Marcus Trescothick.
Overseas players: Alviro Petersen (for first half of season and FL t20), Abdur Rehman (five Championship games and possibly FL t20).
How they did last season: Second in the County Championship Division One, third in CB40 group, losing semi-finalists in FL t20.
Season prospects: Falling at the final hurdle has become something of a problem for Somerset in recent seasons and their 'bridesmaid' reputation led to Brian Rose stepping down as director of cricket. His replacement is Dave Nosworthy and the county are hoping a fresh approach may be the missing piece in their trophy puzzle. The likely absence, on England duty, of Nick Compton for much of the Championship season will be a blow, but if they can avoid the injuries which blighted them last year, a squad including Marcus Trescothick, Jos Buttler, Pete Trego, Craig Kieswetter, Alfonso Thomas and Steve Kirby has plenty to offer.
One to watch: The Overton twins, Craig and Jamie, and Craig Meschede were just three of the club's youngsters to make a mark last season, but 20-year-old Ireland spinner George Dockrell took 34 wickets Championship wickets in just 10 matches and will hope to better that if he avoids injury.
By BBC Radio Bristol's Ed Hadwin
Captain: Graeme Smith
Overseas players: Graeme Smith (South Africa); Ricky Ponting (Australia, while Smith is at Champions Trophy)
How they did last season: Seventh in Championship Division One, second in CB 40 group, sixth in FL t20 group.
Season prospects: After a difficult 2012, Surrey have recruited well over the winter and the signing of Graeme Smith is one that has caught the imagination. Smith will bring his leadership and experience to the dressing room and plenty of runs to the top of the order. Vikram Solanki and Gary Keedy are shrewd signings and both will play a major role this year. The bowling unit looks very strong, with all bases covered, and the likes of Rory Burns and Arun Harinath will want to build on an excellent 2012, in which both scored maiden Championship centuries - and a certain Ricky Ponting will play for Surrey in June and July. They look to have a balanced squad and will want to make an impact in all three competitions.
One to watch: I'm going for two, Rory Burns and Arun Harinath. Burns seized his opportunity last year at the top of the order and scored his runs in a stylish and attractive manner. Burns will be looking to forge a successful partnership with Smith and learn from the captain's vast experience. For Harinath, 2012 was a breakthrough season and he will want to push on this year and provide the 'cement' to the Surrey batting order.
By BBC London 94.9's Mark Church
Captain: Ed Joyce
Overseas players: Steve Magoffin (Australia), Scott Styris (New Zealand, for FL t20 only)
How they did last season: Fourth in County Championship Division One, semi-finalists in CB40 and FL t20.
Season prospects: There is quiet optimism on the south coast that Sussex can continue their progress from last season and again mount a serious challenge on all three fronts. Ed Joyce, in his first full season in charge, will drop down the order to number four in the Championship, allowing highly promising left-hander Luke Wells to open. With the under-rated Chris Nash as the other opener and Mike Yardy at three, the Sussex top order has a solid look, and the return of Rory Hamilton-Brown from Surrey adds an extra dimension to the middle order. The seam bowling department, which too often last season was reliant on Steve Magoffin, has been strengthened by the signing of Chris Jordan, who found opportunities limited at Surrey, but how much success Sussex enjoy may depend on how much time spinner Monty Panesar spends on England duty.
One to watch: Chris Jordan has impressed during pre-season and, provided he can steer clear of the injuries which have so far disrupted his career, Sussex have a genuinely quick bowler and hard-hitting batsman capable of making a huge impact this summer.
By BBC Sussex's Adrian Harms
Captain: Jim Troughton
Overseas players: Jeetan Patel (New Zealand)
How they did last season: County champions, CB 40 finalists, fourth in Midlands/Wales/West Group in FL t20.
Season prospects: Warwickshire's strength in securing their seventh title last summer was the simple art of being able to bowl out the opposition twice. Five of their six wins - four of which came crucially in the first six games of the season - were achieved batting second and there is nothing to suggest they will be less of a force with the ball in 2013. The only concern is potential England calls in a busy Ashes summer, which also contains the Champions Trophy in June, but they managed pretty well in 2012 without Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Chris Woakes. Now, they have leading wicket taker Chris Wright, top scorer Varun Chopra and all-rounder Rikki Clarke in the England frame as well, but the Bears still have strength in depth.
One to watch: Oliver Hannon-Dalby may have been surplus to requirements with his native Yorkshire, but the Bears have spotted something in the tall seamer to suggest that he could be the latest to roll off the production line at highly-acclaimed bowling coach Graeme Welch's Edgbaston finishing school. Judging by his nine-wicket match haul against the Oxford students, keep a look out too for another fast bowler, youngster Tom Milnes.
By BBC Midlands Sport's Ged Scott
Captain: Daryl Mitchell
Overseas players: Thilan Samaraweera (Sri Lanka), Jacob Oram (New Zealand, for FL t20)
How they did last season: Bottom of County Championship Division One (relegated), bottom of CB 40 group, FL t20 quarter-finalists.
Season prospects: Despite managing to stay up in 2011 for the first time since the introduction of two-division County Championship cricket, Worcestershire were always punching above their weight. For a county with such meagre resources, relegation last summer looked inevitable from early season when they paid for the loss of Gareth Andrew, who missed seven games, and main strike bowler Alan Richardson, who still chipped in with 57 wickets. By season's end, they had lost Surrey-bound Vikram Solanki too, but they hope overseas signings Thilan Samaraweera, who is available for the whole summer, and Twenty20 specialist Jacob Oram can trigger something in Steve Rhodes' young team.
One to watch: Ben Cox was a 17-year-old schoolboy when he made a half-century and claimed Marcus Trescothick as his first scalp on his first-class debut at Taunton in September 2009. Having now learned his trade - and, with a former England wicket-keeper like Rhodes as his coach, he will not have gone short on advice - the release of Ben Scott late last summer may have signalled the moment that Cox was deemed ready to be Worcestershire's first-choice keeper, assuming he sees off the challenge of Australian Michael Johnson.
By BBC Midlands Sport's Ged Scott
Captain: Andrew Gale
Overseas players: None, although they are looking to re-sign David Miller (South Africa) for the limited-overs matches
How they did last season: Second in County Championship Division Two (promoted), fifth in Group C in CB40, beaten finalists in FL t20.
Season prospects: It is a big jump up from Division Two but Yorkshire have recruited well, especially in the seam bowling department as Liam Plunkett and Jack Brooks are both decent performers at this level. The club will be pleased to see batsmen Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, and Gary Ballance getting England recognition, but it is bittersweet given that it means they night not be available for parts of the season. Their absence will give Joe Sayers and Alex Lees a chance to stake a claim in the team and it will be interesting to see how they do. It would be wonderful if Yorkshire could win the title in their 150th year, but that is the stuff of fairytales really and, in reality, I think they will come third or fourth.
One to watch: Adam Lyth started the 2011 season in fantastic form and was the first player in the country to reach 1,000 runs. He has struggled since then and this is a big year for him. Given his chance he could really sparkle and might prove to be vital.
By BBC Radio Leeds' Dave Callaghan