Derbyshire v Northamptonshire
Derbyshire make a late start to their campaign, with a squad that has been considerably reshaped by director of cricket Kim Barnett, against a Northants side who are on a run of four consecutive wins stretching back to last season, having claimed a first-round win for the first time since 1995 by demolishing Glamorgan inside two days.
The Peakites are missing one of their major winter signings as South African seamer Hardus Viljoen is injured, but could have four debutants – Ireland wicket-keeper Gary Wilson, who has arrived from Surrey and been appointed vice captain; Sri Lankan leg-spinner Jeevan Mendis; Daryn Smit, an England-qualified South African batsman who played for Ramsbottom last summer; and former Lancashire all-rounder Luis Reece.
Durham v Nottinghamshire
These two teams who came down from Division One last season, albeit in contrasting circumstances – and after Notts opened with a convincing win at Leicester, they are already 70 points ahead of Durham as a result of the latter’s 48-point handicap.
Notts will have to make at least one change, with Stuart Broad resting under instruction from the ECB, and likely to be replaced by Jake Ball. Durham include their England pair Keaton Jennings and Mark Wood, and are set to hand a debut to South African opener Stephen Cook.
Glamorgan v Worcestershire
Aussie seamer John Hastings is set to make his debut for a Worcestershire team under the fresh captaincy of Joe Leach, with Daryl Mitchell returning to the ranks. Glamorgan have a good recent record against them in Wales, with two wins and two draws in the last four meetings, but made a nightmare start to the season as they lost inside two days at Northampton, despite handing a debut to Marchant de Lange and re-signing Harry Podmore on a second loan spell from Middlesex.
Gloucestershire v Leicestershire
Two teams aiming to bounce back after opening defeats at Kent and at home to Nottinghamshire respectively. Leicestershire, who still have to reclaim 11 of the 16 points they were docked on the eve of the season for disciplinary issues, are boosted by the return to fitness of the former Middlesex captain Neil Dexter, and the former Warwickshire and Worcestershire seamer Richard Jones. Gloucestershire are set to be unchanged with former Durham wicketkeeper Phil Mustard continuing as captain as Gareth Roderick recovers from illness.
Sussex v Kent
Sussex give debuts to two South Africans – Vernon Philander, who has joined them as overseas player for the early weeks of the season, and Stiaan van Zyl, a left-hander who has joined them as a Kolpak registration – while a third, the seamer David Wiese, has rejoined for a second stint.
Kent also have a returning South African in Wayne Parnell, the left-arm seamer who has signed a short-term deal, and boosts their bowling options after an opening win against Gloucestershire in Canterbury. They dominated both Championship meetings between the south coast neighbours last summer, with Sussex hanging on for a draw at Tunbridge Wells but suffering an innings defeat at home in Hove.
Liam Livingstone, one of the stars of England Lions' tour of Sri Lanka, has been given the Lancashire captaincy against Surrey at Old Trafford.
Only a year ago, Livingstone had to press Ashley Giles, then Lancashire's director of cricket, to reject assumptions that he was just a one-day hitter and give him a chance in Championship cricket.
Livngstone takes over at 23 years 252 days after only 20 first-class matches.
Division One team news
Hampshire v Middlesex
Nick Compton is missing from the Middlesex team who make a belated launch to their title defence, as he is still recovering from a shoulder problem.
But Adam Voges has arrived from Australia to add experience to the middle order, and the champions have Steven Finn available to add to a formidable range of fast-bowling options also including winter Lions tourists Toby Roland-Jones and Tom Helm.
They have a poor recent record in Hampshire in Championship cricket, with a single win in their last 13 visits, but had an emphatic innings win in the teams’ last four-day meeting at Merchant Taylors last spring.
Hampshire chased 320 to complete an excellent opening win at Yorkshire, with the South Africans Rilee Rossouw and Kyle Abbott making impressive debuts, and could consider leg-spinner Mason Crane.
Somerset v Essex
Somerset begin the season aiming to go one better than last season’s last-day heartbreak, and seal a first Championship title.
Tom Abell, a new captain at 23, will bat at No 3 behind Marcus Trescothick, who is starting his 25th season at the age of 41, and Dean Elgar, the South African left-hander, who returns to Taunton for a second stint. Steve Davies, who was signed from Surrey at the end of last season, will make his county debut.
Alastair Cook missed Essex’s first match back in Division One at home to Lancashire because of a hip injury, but he and all-rounder Ashar Zaidi are included in a 13-man squad.
Surrey v Lancashire
Surrey could offer further evidence of the strength of their squad by making changes to the team who crushed Warwickshire in their opener at the Kia Oval, with Zafar Ansari and Stuart Meaker both in contention to come in.
That win was their seventh in a 15-match unbeaten run in Championship matches at the Kia Oval – while Lancashire have gone 12 without a win in Championship cricket and they have responded meaningfully - by appointing Liam Livingstone, an England Lions player, as captain just a year after his first-class debut. They are missing Jimmy Anderson under instructions from England, but Haseeb Hameed continues.
Warwickshire v Yorkshire
Yorkshire, stung by an opening defeat against Hampshire, include David Willey, Matthew Fisher and Adil Rashid in a 13-man squad as they aim to bounce back from their opening defeat at home to Hampshire. They are still missing Ryan Sidebottom, Jack Brooks and Liam Plunkett injured, and Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow on instructions from England.
But they have an outstanding record both at Edgbaston, where they have won on three of their last four visits, and against Warwickshire, with nine wins and a single defeat in the last 17 meetings. The Bears were crushed in their opener against Surrey at the Kia Oval.