The County Championship is not the most fashionable of competitions. Indeed in 20 years or so it may not even exist. Certainly it is almost impossible to imagine the second rung of the two-tier competition.
<p>The County Championship is not the most fashionable of competitions. Indeed, in 20 years or so it may not even exist. Certainly, it is almost impossible to imagine the second rung of the two-tier competition surviving.</p><p>This the realm of the also-rans and never-will-bes. Counties who have mostly never won the title and are never likely to. Hell, there are some down there like Gloucestershire, who have never made it to Division One. WG Grace and Wally Hammond would be spinning.</p><p>But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call out a spot of value when we find it. And there is a bet to be had in Friday’s games. A really good one. It involves two counties whose time on the planet is limited – Leicestershire and Derbyshire.</p><p>Leicestershire, who we fancy for a daring run for the each-way places in the league, are +100 with Bet365 to get their campaign up and running. It’s a solid price and arguably it is they who should be favourites instead of Derbyshire, who are installed at a terrible -125.</p><p>Derbyshire shouldn’t be odds-on to beat an amateur outfit, let alone one of their rivals. To put that into context, they won their first Championship match at home at the 24th time of asking last time out. True, they razed an impressive Middlesex outfit by 10 runs. But Derbyshire teams are about as reliable as the weather in Blighty at this time of the year.</p><p>Leicestershire, historically, have been much better and they are coached by Paul Nixon, architect of one of their proudest moments in their history when they regularly put the big boys’ noses out of joint. In 1996 and 1998 they won two pennants.</p><p>Those days will probably never return. But they have a terrific balance to their XI this season, as shown when they gave Sussex, fancied for the title, a very tough game first up. What really impressed was the strength of their batting with Michael Carberry, Colin Ackermann, Mark Cosgrove and Neil Dexter all reliable performers. It doesn’t get much more solid than that.</p><p>The X-factor comes in the form of Pakistan pacer Mohammad Abbas. And this is the guy we’re hoping will do much of the damage as far as our eager is concerned. The former Test player is finding his feet nicely and soon he could be swinging it round corners. Watch out, Derbyshire.</p>