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    Potential County Championship stars: from Gus Atkinson to Josh de Caires
Potential County Championship stars: from Gus Atkinson to Josh de Caires
Potential County Championship starsPotential County Championship stars. Source: Getty Images

Potential County Championship stars: from Gus Atkinson to Josh de Caires

Cricket players across the country are preparing for the Vitality County Championship, which begins on Friday.

Here are the highlights of five players who have the potential to excel this season.

Josh Hull from Leicestershire

A 6ft 7in left-arm seamer, Hull aspires to be England's version of Mitchell Starc. While he may need to add more pace to his arsenal, he can swing the ball. At 19, he has plenty of time to develop his skills. Hull has made only 20 professional appearances but has already shown an appetite for the big occasion. In the 2023 One-Day Cup final, he defended eight runs in the last over, helping Leicestershire upset Hampshire. Due to injury, Hull will miss the first few red-ball rounds this month. If he remains fit, he can further enhance his burgeoning reputation. England's Director of Men's Cricket, Rob Key, has already taken notice.

Gus Atkinson from Surrey

The only player who has been included in every England squad this winter is Atkinson. He was not used much in the white-ball matches before Christmas and was not selected at all in the 4-1 Test series defeat in India recently. Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum were impressed with his performance and indicated that the fast bowler will likely be given a chance this summer. Atkinson fits the bill for England's emphasis on fast bowlers who can operate in the high 80mph bracket. After withdrawing from the Indian Premier League, Atkinson could feature prominently in England's plans if he performs well for Surrey early in the season.

Josh de Caires from Middlesex

Last season, De Caires began with aspirations of a top-order role but ended up as an off-spinning all-rounder. The son of former England captain Michael Atherton, De Caires impressed with a seven-for against Hampshire and an eight-wicket haul versus Essex. While these performances may be outliers as the 21-year-old's career progresses, England is always on the lookout for promising spinners, even if the cupboard appears to be well-stocked.

Tawanda Muyeye from Kent

Muyeye arrived in the United Kingdom as an asylum seeker after he and his family fled their native Zimbabwe. He has one of county cricket’s more interesting backstories and is also one of the most precocious and eye-catching talents on the circuit. A video of him batting on social media earned praise from Kevin Pietersen. With an attacking style suited to Bazball - Muyeye has expressed an interest in playing for England - the 23-year-old may need to become more consistent to achieve his goal. He enhanced his reputation with a breakthrough 179 against Northamptonshire last June.

Ollie Robinson from Durham

With scrutiny on whether Jonny Bairstow or Ben Foakes will take the gloves for England this summer, there is a possibility that Robinson will replace them. Robinson averaged 58.18 at a strike-rate of 88.66 in Durham’s promotion last season and is skilled behind the stumps. The 25-year-old scored a couple of counter-attacking 80s in England Lions’ unofficial Tests against India A, and he may receive higher honours this summer. It is feasible that England could have two Ollie Robinsons in their team. Remarkably, they share the same birthday, although Durham's wicketkeeper-batter is five years older than the 20-cap seam bowler.

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