County cricket gets a new look this season.

The 18 teams are divided into three groups of six in the first section of the LV= Insurance County Championship.

The top two from each group go into Division One for the second phase, the next two are in Division Two and fifth and sixth enter Division Three.

ECB Reporters Network have done their research on all 18 counties and this is their verdict on Group Three, which is where Sussex find themselves for the opening phase.


Coach: Matthew Maynard

Captain: Chris Cooke

Overseas Players: Andy Balbirne (Ireland – April); Marnus Labuschagne (Australia - May until end of season), Michael Neser (Australia – May until end of season).

Key man: Marnus Labuschagne – The Australian brings his unorthodox style back to Glamorgan.

Flies under the radar: Dan Douthwaite – The 24-year-old was Glamorgan’s leading wicket-taker in the Bob Willis Trophy.

Best Under 24: Callum Taylor – Confirmed his promise with a debut first-class century against Northants last year. Bowls handy off-spin.

The Season Ahead: The delayed arrivals of Marnus Labuschagne and Michael Neser is not ideal but, when they do arrive, Glamorgan have a strong argument for the best international signings in the Championship. Meanwhile David Lloyd returns to the top of the order after an injury-riddled 2020.


Coach: Matthew Walker

Captain: Sam Billings

Last Year’s Performance: Fourth (South Group)

Overseas players: Heino Kuhn (South Africa – full season), Miguel Cummins (West Indies – 8 April-6 June)

Key man: Daniel Bell-Drummond - Billings’ limited availability means the vice-captain could be in charge for much of the campaign. Scored heavily in pre-season and the extra responsibility may be the making of him.

Flies under the radar: Darren Stevens - The veteran has been surprising batsmen since 1997 and carried the attack last year.

Best Player Under 24: Jordan Cox - The Margate-born wicketkeeper-batsman is arguably the pick of an emerging crop, finishing as leading run scorer in red-ball cricket, thanks largely to an unbeaten 238 against Sussex.

The Season Ahead: Walker is buoyant, believing he has a glut of “hungry” young players, all desperate to play for England and to win silverware for Kent into the bargain. “This is the best squad we’ve had for a very, very long time,” he said.


Coach: Glen Chapple

Captain: Dane Vilas

Last year’s performance: Third (North Group)

Overseas players: Dane Vilas (South Africa - full season), Jackson Bird (Australia - six Championship matches from April 22)

Key man: Saqib Mahmood - Fast bowler with devastating pace and skill. A good season could see him guide Lancashire to silverware and maybe even secure Ashes and T20 World Cup selection.

Flies under the radar: Rob Jones - Home-grown former England Under-19s batsman who has two hundreds in 30 first-class matches.

Best player under 24: Josh Bohannon - Batting all-rounder, 23, elevated to No.3 in four-day cricket in late 2019, A touch of class mixed with fierce determination.

The season ahead: They will start the summer as favourites to qualify with Yorkshire. If the Red Rose batting can click, including new signing Luke Wells from Sussex, they should live up to that tag given the obvious seam bowling strength led by Saqib Mahmood, Jackson Bird, Tom Bailey and even Jimmy Anderson at times.


Coach: David Ripley

Captain: Adam Rossington

Last Year’s Performance: Fourth (Central Group)

Overseas Player: Wayne Parnell (South Africa – full season)

Key Man: Ben Sanderson - Remains the spearhead of the seam attack. His 244 first-class wickets at less than 20 underline his skills.

Flies under the radar: Curtley-Jack White - White emerged from an injury-plagued 2019 to take 13 wickets in last year’s Bob Willis Trophy.

Best Player Under 24: Emilio Gay - The 20-year-old opener endured a tough Bob Willis Trophy campaign but a match-winning 77 not out against Glamorgan signalled the potential of this academy graduate.

The Season Ahead: Thanks to Ben Sanderson and Curtley-Jack White in particular, Northants look well placed to bowl sides out, all the more so now South Africa all-rounder Wayne Parnell complements the seam bowling department. The challenge will be making sufficient runs.


Coach: Ian Salisbury

The Argus:

Captain: Ben Brown (pictured)

Last Year’s Performance: Sixth (South Group)

Overseas players: Travis Head (Australia from end of April), Stiaan van Zyl.

Key man: Ollie Robinson – Has taken 166 wickets at 17.74 since 2018. At 27, he is coming into his prime and a Test debut surely awaits if he maintains his consistency.

Flies under the radar: George Garton – Having overcome injury problems, Garton showed his all-round skills in 2020 as a threatening left-arm quick and accomplished middle-order batsman.

Best Player Under 24: Jack Carson – The 20-year-old Irish off-spinner broke through in 2020 when he was Sussex’s leading wicket-taker. He spins the ball hard on all surfaces, is learning quickly and has a combative attitude.

The Season Ahead: With a new head coach in Ian Salisbury and some highly regarded young players emerging from the academy, there is a fresh feel at Hove. Skipper Ben Brown feels there is a good blend of young talent like Jack Carson and players such as Phil Salt and Ollie Robinson who have become consistent performers. Sussex could be an outside bet for a top-two finish in this group.


Coach: Andrew Gale

Captain: Steve Patterson

Last year’s performance: First (North Group)

Overseas players: Duanne Olivier (South Africa - full season), Mathew Pillans (South Africa - full season)

Key man: Ben Coad - New ball seamer who has a bit of “genius” about him, according to Andrew Gale.

Flies under the radar: Jonny Tattersall - Impressive rise from non-keeper to first choice gloveman in three years. Scores important middle order runs.

Best player under 24: Harry Brook - Pips a host of contenders, including new signing Dom Bess. A batsman, aged 22, with all the shots who is starting to string telling performances together.

The season ahead: They would seem to have all bases covered and are boosted by the return of linchpin batsman Gary Ballance, who missed the whole of 2020 through illness. His availability, alongside that of Joe Root for at least the opening two games, offsets the loss of Dawid Malan to IPL duty.