Vitality County Championship 2024 – Division One Season Outright Tips and Betting Preview

We have moved into April which means that the county cricket is about to get underway. It does so on Friday as the County Championship begins to start a summer of action which will also include a T20 World Cup along the way.

Surrey were once again the champions of Division One last season and in what will be the final campaign with Alec Stewart at the helm they will be expected to dominate the competition again, but nine other counties will be out to stop them.

Recent Winners

2023 – Surrey

2022 – Surrey

2021 – Warwickshire

2020 – Essex (Bob Willis Trophy)

2019 – Essex

2018 – Surrey

2017 – Essex

2016 – Middlesex

2015 – Yorkshire

2014 – Yorkshire

The Format

Despite the call for changes to the system we have the same format as a year ago. Each team in the league will play the others once and then they will all play a second team twice to make 14 matches for each side. The points system is 16 for a win, eight for a draw or tie and nothing for losing. There is no second phase to this season so the team who has the most points after 14 matches wins the title.

The bonus system is the same as last year though. As ever there are first innings bonus points too with points scored for getting 250, 300, 350, 400 and 450 in the first 110 overs. Bonus points are also available for 3, 6 and 9 wickets, providing a maximum of eight possible bonus points in total. In keeping with Test cricket the new ball is available to teams after 80 overs as it was last season rather than the 90 overs it was prior to the pandemic.

Market Leaders

Surrey are looking for a third title in succession in what will be the final campaign with Alec Stewart at the club. That in itself is motivation for them to complete the hat trick of titles this term and the addition of Dan Lawrence certainly goes a long way to sorting out a weakness which was their middle order. You can’t win a Championship title with your lower order but the Surrey 7-11 has got them out of a few holes at the right times while they have battled away with the likes of Ollie Pope in particular away with England. Surrey are the team to beat but the value has gone at 9/5.

Essex are 6/1 on the best prices having been the closest challengers to Surrey last season. I must admit I had Essex finishing down the table had they not found a replacement for Sir Alastair Cook on top of the Dan Lawrence departure but they have come up with someone who really should fill the void perfectly in Dean Elgar, who will be available throughout the campaign now that he has retired from international cricket. Simon Harmer is around should the weather improve so it could be that Essex are the closest challengers to Surrey again.

Lancashire are the third favourites at 8/1 to win the title this season. I wonder if they would have been even shorter than that had Nathan Lyon’s spell at Old Trafford been for the entire campaign but it has been cut in half and probably not the half that Lancashire would have wanted with all the rain that has been around. Dale Benkenstein has plenty to prove as a coach now that he has replaced the relatively successful Glen Chapple at the forefront of the Red Rose county. I’m not convinced by them at the price.

Warwickshire are a point bigger at 9/1 this season and they are an interesting case. They were fourth last season and would have been better than that if their batters could have offered them the sort of form they were looking for. The fact that they didn’t coupled with them not recruiting in that area leaves them looking a little vulnerable to me, especially if Sam Hain does something special enough to get himself in England reckoning. The other thing to consider is how much they will see of Chris Woakes and Hasan Ali. Others are preferred.

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Season Betting

I actually think the value lies further down the betting market, although it should be stated that I don’t see beyond Surrey so I’m looking to get involved in the market which doesn’t have them in play. Hampshire are a middle order gun away from a top side but the fact their bowling attack is nearing the end of its time together still makes me tempted to play them as they look to secure the elusive title at what might be the final time of asking for a while, however their batting does concern me, albeit Ali Orr is a good signing.

The team I am going to take instead are Durham, who have been a Division One side in the making for a while and I don’t really see a weakness in them. They have a plethora of good bowling options with Scott Boland in particular likely to do some damage in the first half of the campaign. Durham are stocked with a decent enough batting unit, led by David Bedingham and strengthened by the arrival of Colin Ackermann and I think everything is in place at the Riverside for a top season. BetVictor are paying three places without Surrey so we can get a pay out on fourth spot and that is enough to reel me in.

Top Batter

Two batters catch my eye in the BetVictor top batter market with the first of them being the Durham ace David Bedingham. At the time of writing there is no Test cricket scheduled for South Africa so he should be at the Riverside for the whole season and he has filled his boots in Durham whites so far in his career. His overall First-class average is 49.51 and since he last played for Durham he has made his Test debut where he has a pair of 50s and a century in seven innings. I think he has a technique made for Division One and given that he is in Durham for the whole season the 22/1 on him being the leading batter in the top flight looks decent enough value to me.

Another player who is good value is James Rew. The Somerset keeper-batter was third in the Division One scoring last season even though he only had 22 of the possible 28 innings that was available to him. That was his first real season in the Somerset side so you would imagine there is some natural improvement to come from a very talented player. Rew made five tons last season and went away with the England Lions in the winter which should also have improved his game. Tom Abell is going to miss the first part of the season for Somerset so Rew should go up the order and at 33/1 I think he is a big price to top score this season.


Back Durham to win Division One (w/o Surrey) (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 7.50 with BetVictor (1/5 1-3)

Back D.Bedingham Top Division One Batter (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 23.00 with BetVictor (1/4 1-4)

Back J.Rew Top Division One Batter (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with BetVictor (1/4 1-4)