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

As ever, the Vitality County Championship is a two-division competition and having previewed the entire Division One season elsewhere it is time to look at Division Two where the rewards of a place in the top flight are on the line.

Durham took full advantage of a squad which was far too strong for the level last year to win the second division. All eyes will be on Yorkshire to see if they can follow suit or whether an outsider can win the title.

Recent Winners

2023 – Durham

2022 – Nottinghamshire

2021 – N/A

2020 – N/A

2019 – Lancashire

2018 – Warwickshire

2017 – Worcestershire

2016 – Essex

2015 – Surrey

2014 – Hampshire

The Format

This is a usual eight team division where all of the teams will go up against the other seven home and away. At the end of the season the top two will be promoted to Division One for next season. 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 with the runner-up also being promoted.

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

Yorkshire are the 21/10 favourites to win the title and get back into the top flight and while I can understand that it wouldn’t be a price that I’m rushing to get involved in. I guess there will be plenty who are keen to double them up with Surrey in Division One which might not be a bad bet but you just wonder if there is going to be more fallout in the Yorkshire debacle off the pitch now that Colin Graves has returned. They are also going to be having players coming and going on England duty so I’m happy to leave them alone.

Northamptonshire were relegated fairly tamely last season but they are 11/2 to bounce back in top spot. The big issue with the Wantage Road outfit is the exodus of players that has taken place Tom Taylor and Gareth Berg departing in particular to unbalance the side. Chris Tremain should go well in early season conditions though and Karun Nair was brilliant in the time he played last season. I would imagine Northamptonshire will be in the mix for promotion but I don’t see them as a standout side where a return to the top flight is guaranteed.

Sussex come next in the betting at 6/1. There was a lot of optimism around the Hove area heading into last season when Steve Smith was coming over for a few matches. He won’t be around this time but Cheteshwar Pujara will be and John Simpson looks a really good pickup. Concerns come in the fact that Ali Orr and George Garton were allowed to leave but with Jayden Seales and Jaydev Unadkat ensuring that Sussex have an overseas bowler for much of the season it is easy to see why Sussex are third favourites.

Middlesex are also 6/1 to get back into the top flight at the first time of asking via winning the title. They are having all sorts of financial difficulties though to the extent that there won’t be an overseas player at Lord’s this season. To be fair, they have done well to sign Henry Brookes from Warwickshire and he is too good to be a Division Two bowler if he can stay fit while Leus du Plooy is a good acquisition but John Simpson is an experienced head who has departed and the mainstay of the attack in Tim Murtagh is now retired.

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Season Betting

I went without the favourite in Division One this season but I won’t be doing the same in Division Two because I just can’t bring myself to think that there isn’t more to come from the Yorkshire fallout. I definitely don’t want to be on Northamptonshire, who might be better in the white ball competitions this term, while Middlesex are of no interest to me. If I knew that Rehan Ahmed was not going to be the leading England spinner this summer then Leicestershire would catch my eye but in the end I’m looking elsewhere.

That is in the direction of Sussex, who to be fair I’m not convinced about completely off the pitch, but who could well spend the first two months of the season ripping sides open with Ollie Robinson and Jayden Seales causing problems for batters with the new ball. Cheteshwar Pujara is the ultimate wall for the batters to bat around and if Tom Haines can find his very best then runs look certain for Sussex, especially with John Simpson bolstering the middle order too. Sussex have a good balance to their side with a couple of decent all-rounders and they look the value in the second tier to me.

Top Batter

This is one of those divisions where you can often get a surprise top scorer with the bat because there are more comings and goings than anywhere in terms of overseas players and even England players in the case of Yorkshire. Upheaval is never a good thing but it does offer up value for some others, especially when you consider the likes of Harry Brook, Marnus Labuschagne, Karun Nair and Shan Masood won’t be playing every game this season.

Chris Dent has always been a decent run scorer in this division for Gloucestershire and I think he could be a bit of a forgotten man at 45/1. I’m not saying he is in his prime or anything but he was seventh in the run charts in this division in 2018, third a year later and averaged a shade under 40 in Division One two seasons ago. Batting at Bristol isn’t always easy but Dent seems to do it pretty well and with an established top class batter at the other end in Cameron Bancroft he should have a partnership to enjoy. I think the bookies have written Dent off a little too soon and I’ll pay to see how he goes in what is always a wide open market.


Back Sussex to win Division Two (e/w) for a 2/10 stake at 7.00 with BetVictor (1/5 1-3)

Back C.Dent Top Division Two Batter (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 46.00 with BetVictor (1/4 1-4)