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Count number of cells containing specific text
Comments

I don't think there is a wildcard, but you could use
=COUNTIF(LEFT(text1, 2), "ab")
Christine

I see where Christine is going with her COUNTIF, but I couldn't quite get it to work.
I added a column (a checkbox column) with this formula:
=IF(LEFT([Primary Column]9, 2) = "ab", 1, 0)
The check box is checked if the [Primary Column] starts with "ab".
If your data is under a parent hierarchy, then this at the parent row
=COUNTIF(CHILDREN(), 1) + ""
will get you a count (in text format) of the number of 'ab' found in the children.
I convert to text because checkboxes won't take numbers greater than 1.
Or change the column to a text/number column and use a SUM on the CHILDREN instead.
If your data is NOT in a hierarchy, then
=COUNTIF([Primary Column]:[Primary Column], 1) + ""
If you need to use the number in a formula, convert it back using VALUE.
Craig 
Oh, and if you want to find any instance of "ab" (jabc) not jus the first two letters, try FIND.
=IF(FIND("ab", [Primary Column]23) > 0, 1, 0)
Craig