Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Bowlers shouldn't be Yorkshire's main targets

Bairstow is one of a number of Yorkshire batsmen who could
miss chunks of the season due to international call-ups. (Pic.
PA Photos)
After the signings of Jack Brooks and Liam Plunkett, Yorkshire's bowling attack looks well set for their first season back in Division One after they sealed promotion back in September.

Both players come with a lot of pedigree, and Brooks especially will excite the Headingley faithful given his exploits with the England Lions team in recent years whilst Plunkett, with the right coaching, still has the potential to be a dangerous seamer at county level.

Despite these two captures, some Tykes fans may be worried that Martyn Moxon and Jason Gillespie are concentrating on the bowling side of their team's game and not giving enough attention to a batting order which could be seriously weakened by international call-ups.

The bowling attack now consists of Brooks, Plunkett, Ryan Sidebottom, Steve Patterson, Richard Pyrah and Moin Ashraf whilst it looks increasingly likely that Tim Bresnan will be available for more of the 2013 season than its two predecessors after falling down the England pecking order in all forms of cricket.

If Bresnan does become available, the White Rose county will boast one of the most formidable attacks in the division after the performances of Patterson last season and the experience of Sidebottom to back up the most likely new ball pairing of Bresnan and Brooks. With Azeem Rafiq's improving off-spin thrown into the mix, their chances of taking 20 wickets in a match has improved considerably.

This is obviously pleasing for the members in Leeds, but they will be mindful that star batsmen Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow could miss large chunks of the season as both look set to play Test matches for England over the winter.

If they impress, it is likely that they will remain in the side for the summer series' against New Zealand and Australia, and this would decimate Yorkshire's batting line-up.

Without Root, the revitalised Adam Lyth doesn't have an obvious opening partner. Joe Sayers is yet to rediscover his form from 2009 where he played for the England Lions whilst Phil Jaques spent the whole of last season batting at number three, though he did open in one-day orthokeratology competition.

If Jaques was promoted up the order, that would leave a middle order of Andrew Gale, who failed to score a century last season, Gary Ballance and Anthony McGrath, who was one of Yorkshire's worst performers in their relegation season of 2011. Ballance himself could also miss matches if he impresses for the England Lions this winter.

With Andrew Hodd set to deputise for Bairstow, Yorkshire at least have a good wicketkeeper to call on, but the former Sussex man would arguably bat below Bresnan having struggled with the bat in recent years.

Moxon and Gillespie have a decision to make as to who fills the gaps in their batting order should their talented youngsters be taken out of their control. Alex Lees and Jack Leaning have both shown their potential in the second eleven but it would be a lot to ask of them to throw them straight into Division One cricket.

At least one new batsman could well be needed by Yorkshire if they are going to survive at the top table of English cricket in their 150th year, and those who run the club would be foolish to think otherwise.

Monday, 1 October 2012

County Cricket end of season review: Part Two (Middlesex-Yorkshire)

At the end of a long season of cricket, the 18 counties will take stock of their campaign in all three formats and reflect on the highs and lows of what was a memorable campaign for a number of reasons.

At Eighteen Into Fourteen Doesn't Go we have taken in upon ourselves to carry out these reviews ourselves and try to work out which sides will be pleased with their campaign and which will be licking their wounds after disappointing summers.

Roland-Jones led the Middlesex attack
excellently despite being only 24. (Pic.
Ben Hoskins)
Middlesex (LVCC Div. One: 3rd; CB40: Group Stages (2nd in Group A); FLT20: Group Stages (5th in South))- After winning promotion to Division One of the County Championship, Angus Frasers' side were the surprise package of the season, eventually finishing third behind Warwickshire and Somerset. Their success was built on an impressive seam attack whilst captain Chris Rogers was one of only four men to pass 1000 runs in the competition.

They were less impressive in one-day cricket, although they were the only side who looked like challenging Lancashire in Group A of the CB40 as the Red Rose county dominated in qualifying for the semi-finals.

They have already brought in James Harris to bolster their already excellent seamers, though it now seems that Steven Finn's appearances will become less and less frequent, and they are arguably a quality spinner away from being real challengers at the top of the Championship table in 2013.

Star pupil: Toby Roland-Jones (79 wickets)
Must do better: Ollie Rayner (21 wickets)
Final grade: B+

Brooks' departure will create a large hole in Northamptonshire's
bowling attack for 2013. (Pic. David Rogers)
Northamptonshire (LVCC Div. Two: 8th; CB40: Group Stages (6th in Group C); FLT20: Group Stages (6th in Mid/Wales/West))- The Steelbacks endured a poor season as they finished second-to-bottom in the Championship whilst only the Unicorns finished below them in one-day competitions.

Captain Andrew Hall tried manfully to marshal his troops towards victories in the first-class game but they regularly came up short despite some decent performances, and will be hoping that they can improve next season and follow the lead of Derbyshire and push for promotion.

Their one-day game also needs a mass inquest, although they will cite the blooding of young players and resting of senior stars towards the end of the season as they tried to improve their Championship position.

The loss of Jack Brooks to Yorkshire will hit them hard, whilst veteran seamer Chaminda Vaas has also been released from his contract. Youngster Olly Stone may well have to carry a large burden on his shoulders alongside David Willey in 2013, although new bowlers could be brought in with the money made from Brooks' departure.

Star pupil: David Willey (669 runs & 50 wickets)
Must do better: David Murphy (352 runs)
Final grade: D-

Captain Read had to dig his side out of trouble on numerous
occasions and finished with more than 1200 runs in all formats.
(Pic. Gareth Copley)
Nottinghamshire (LVCC Div. Two: 5th; CB40: Group Stages (4th in Group B); FLT20: Quarter Finals)- Tipped by many to push for the title, it seemed for much of the season that the Outlaws would be Warwickshire's closest challengers at the top of Division One. Some disappointing results towards the end of the season saw them drop down the table, and they will need more consistency if more silverware is to head to Trent Bridge in 2013.

They impressed in the Friends Life t20 group stages but were then beaten by eventual winners Hampshire in the knockout stages whilst they repeatedly flattered to deceive in the CB40 as they failed to make the semi-finals despite beating table-toppers Hampshire twice.

After missing out on James Harris and Jack Brooks, they have been linked with Ajmal Shahzad as they look to  improve their faltering bowling attack which struggled without talisman Andre Adams towards the end of the campaign. The remainder of the team looks impressive, and they again will be many people's favourites next season.

Star pupil: Chris Read (1271 runs)
Must do better: Luke Fletcher (24 wickets)
Final grade: C

Compton was the exceptional batsmen in the
Championship and was rewarded with an England
call-up. (Pic. Chris Brunskill)
Somerset (LVCC Div. One: Runners-up; CB40: Group Stages (3rd in Group B); FLT20: Semi-Finals)- Despite again not finishing with any silverware, it was another good season at Taunton as they put in good performances in all three competitions. Injuries and international call-ups left them without a full squad throughout the whole season, whilst at some stages they only had 11 players to pick from.

They never really looked like challenging in the County Championship but finished in a highly respectable second place. The pitch at Taunton was very friendly for spinners, and if George Dockrell and/or Abdur Rehman had been available for a full campaign they may well have pushed Warwickshire close. As it was, they were the only team to defeat the Bears all season.

A poor start in the CB40 saw them sitting near the bottom of their group, but a resurgent fightback almost saw them qualify for the semi-finals whilst they were beaten by Hampshire on FLt20 Finals Day in Cardiff.

Batsman Nick Compton has been linked with a move away, but his recent England call-up may put pay to any transfer, and if he stays then they could well eventually end their trophy drought.

Star pupil: Nick Compton (1548 runs)
Must do better: Lewis Gregory (16 wickets)
Final grade: B+

Batty (right) led his side admirably after the tragic death of
Tom Maynard during the season. (Pic. Ben Hoskins)
Surrey (LVCC Div. One: 7th; CB40: Group Stages (2nd in Group B); FLT20: Group Stages (6th in South))- After the death of Tom Maynard midway through the season, the fact that Surrey were able to survive in their first season back in Division One is quite the achievement. A number of young players stepped up to the mark to help them pull off what was an excellent escape.

The Kevin Pietersen saga that overshadowed England's summer certainly aided Chris Adams' side in all competitions, but the South African-born batsman couldn't help them reclaim the CB40 trophy as they finished just behind Hampshire in Group B.

The departure of Rory-Hamilton Brown and the probable return of Pietersen to the national side means there is a considerable hole in the middle order, and Nick Compton is one of a number of players who has been linked with a move to The Oval as they look a better campaign in 2013.

Star pupil: Gareth Batty (55 wickets)
Must do better: Zafar Ansari (538 runs)
Final grade: C

Nash showed excellent form with both bat
and ball throughout 2012. (Pic. Mike Hewitt)
Sussex (LVCC Div. One: 4th; CB40: Semi-Finals; FLT20: Semi-Finals)- With just over a month of the season to go, Sussex had their sights set on an unprecedented treble, and not many would have bet against them picking up some silverware at that stage of the campaign.

The fact that they then finished the season with something of a whimper will have upset their fans, but they can still be proud of a season where they finished in the top four in all three competitions.

Semi-final defeats in the one-day tournaments will have hit them the hardest after some impressive performances in the respective group stages, but they can still look back with pride and build on those performances in 2013, where they will again be many people's tips for a trophy of some sort.

Rory Hamilton-Brown's return to Hove fills the void left by the departing Murray Goodwin whilst Steve Magoffin's decision to stay with the club means they will continue to boast a fearsome bowling attack. The Sharks are another side who will push on all three fronts next season.

Star pupil: Chris Nash (1543 runs & 32 wickets)
Must do better: Joe Gatting (522 runs)
Final grade: B+

Wright (left) and Varun Chopra were the top wicket-taker and
runscorer in county cricket this summer. (Pic. Stu Forster)
Warwickshire (LVCC Div. One: Winners; CB40: Runners-up; FLT20: Group Stages (4th in Mid/Wales/West))- A memorable season at Edgbaston as Warwickshire sealed their first County Championship in eight years was almost topped with a win at Lords in the CB40 final, but Hampshire ran out winners by virtue of losing less wickets.

That defeat couldn't put a dampener on the Bears' season as they ran away with the Division One title, losing just one match on the way to the top of the table. Despite the loss of Chris Woakes and Boyd Rankin to injuries before the season even started, they were regularly able to take 20 wickets in four-day cricket whilst they had arguably the longest batting order in the competition.

Their CB40 performances saw them reach the season's showpiece final, though in the Friends Life t20 they couldn't replicate their form and went out in the group stages after a lack of consistency in the format.

On paper, there is probably no improvement that could be made to this side, but someone to bolster their middle order would not go amiss as they look to win back-to-back titles.

Star pupil: Chris Wright (86 wickets)
Must do better: Will Porterfield (892 runs)
Final grade: A+

Australian Hughes was his side's top batsman
in 2012, especially in the one-day arena. (Pic.
Stu Forster)
Worcestershire (LVCC Div. One: 9th; CB40: Group Stages (7th in Group A); FLT20: Quarter Finals)- After surviving against the odds in the Championship last season, Worcestershire couldn't repeat the trick this time around as they only mustered one win all campaign and finished bottom of the pile.

A number of senior players failed to deliver on a consistent basis and by the time September came around many youngsters were being blooded in the first team in preparation for Division Two cricket in 2013.

Phil Hughes and Alan Richardson carried much of the burden with bat and ball whilst Moeen Ali chipped in in all three formats, but others couldn't replicate their form, and that was the main reason for their downfall.

Their one-day cricket wasn't much better as only three teams mustered less than their eight points in the CB40 whilst they were well beaten by eventual finalists Yorkshire in the quarter-finals of the FLt20.

With money tight, a number of inexperienced players will have to step up next season, although the money made from the departure of Vikram Solanki may help them bring in someone to bolster their batting order.

Star pupil: Phil Hughes (1460 runs)
Must do better: Ben Scott (350 runs)
Final grade: D

Rafiq's breakthrough season saw him receive a
call-up to the England Lions squad. (Pic. Harry
Yorkshire (LVCC Div. Two: Runners-up; CB40: Group Stages (5th in Group C); FLT20: Runners-up)- After their dismal showing in 2011, the Tykes bounced back in style this season as they secured promotion back to Division One and reached their first Friends Life t20 Finals Day after ten years of failed attempts.

They were the only team in the country to go the whole Championship season unbeaten, and arguably only the weather cost them the title to go with their promotion. When available, Joe Root was a revelation at the top of the order and was deservedly picked by England whilst veterans Phil Jaques and Anthony McGrath were in great form.

2012 also saw the emergence of Azeem Rafiq, and he was especially good in the shortest form of the game as he took over the captaincy from the injured Andrew Gale, whilst Steven Patterson had his best season to date.

The capture of Jack Brooks strengthens a bowling attack which could also include Tim Bresnan next season, but with Root and Jonny Bairstow looking increasingly likely to be on England duty for much of next summer, they may need to bring in a batsman if they are to survive back in the top tier of English domestic season.

Star pupil: Phil Jaques (1354 runs)
Must do better: Adil Rashid (30 wickets)
Final grade: A

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Player of the Season: The Shortlist

With the English domestic season having now come to an end, Eighteen Into Fourteen Doesn't Go and Deep Extra Cover want you, the fans, to decide who has been 2012’s Player of the Season.

After much prying over statistics and averages, we have drawn up a shortlist of eight players who have excelled this season.

The award covers all three competitions, and we have asked fans of the counties with players involved to make their pleas as to why their player should win the award.

The winner will be announced next week (week beginning 1st October) so get voting!

Chopra was the top-scoring batsman in all three competitions
combined this season. (Pic. Stu Forster)
Varun Chopra (Warwickshire)- 1740 runs by Terry Wright

There were times during the 2012 season when it seemed that Warwickshire might as well have drawn their batting order out of a hat, such was the strength of the lower order and – to be honest – the occasional vulnerability of those at the top.  There is no doubt, however, that Warwickshire supporters always wanted to see the reassuring figure of Varun Chopra walking out to open the innings.

Almost 1800 runs in all competitions are testimony to his value as an opening batsman.  A sure defence combined with a range of wristy, elegant strokes have made him a tough proposition for opposition bowlers.

Not surprisingly, he has attracted the attention of the England selectors.  Having appeared for the England Lions during the summer, he is now part of the England Performance Programme squad that will tour India this winter.  If a replacement opener is needed for the full international side, Chopra may well be the first choice.  The selectors will have noted that, in addition to being one of only two Englishmen to score over 1000 runs in Division One of the Championship, many of his 32 catches were taken in the slips, an area where England have been increasingly vulnerable.

Although he has only just turned 25, Chopra has completed 7 seasons in the first class game.   His horizons seemed limitless when he starred with (and captained) the England under-19 team in 2005 and then as an 18 year old made his debut for Essex in 2006.  But his early career stalled with Essex.  Consistency eluded him. So his move to Warwickshire at the start of the 2010 season was an important step.  Like Chris Wright, he has clearly benefited from the new environment and from a coaching set-up under Ashley Giles that is both demanding and supportive. The final step up to senior international cricket now seems to be within his grasp and his capabilities.

Whatever the future holds for Varun Chopra, one thing is for sure. Warwickshire’s fans will always be grateful for the massive contribution he made to their Championship win in 2012.

Compton was the only man to score four Championship
hundreds in 2012. (Pic. PA Photos)
Nick Compton (Somerset)- 1548 runs by James Baker (@SomersetLaLaLa)

Somerset are getting a reputation for being the ‘Nearly Men of Cricket’. Runners Up in the County Championship this year, as in 2010. CB40 runners-up last year, and the previous year. And of course, this year Somerset went to T20 Finals Day for the fourth year in a row, having fallen at the last the previous three seasons. This year, they nearly got through to the final…

After Nick Compton’s season with Somerset, perhaps he could be called the ‘Nearly Man of the Nearly Men’. On three separate occasions, he nearly reached a precious milestone, only to fall just short owing to unfortunate circumstances.

Firstly, he nearly scored 1000 runs by the end of May. Unfortunately, despite scoring a magnificent century at New Road against Worcestershire, the notorious ‘summer’ of 2012 intervened. A rain delay meant the 1000th run of the season had to wait until 1st June.

On the last day of the season, again against Worcestershire (this time at Taunton), the Somerset batsman nearly reached 1500 first-class runs for 2012. Somerset’s declaration, on reaching a first innings lead of exactly 300, left him stranded just six short of the milestone. His team’s innings victory meant he didn’t get his final chance to reach the magic 1500.

And finally, and perhaps even more cruelly than the Missed Milestone of May, was Compton’s first class average for 2012. Somerset’s declaration, with him on 155 not out, left his average a Bradmanesque 99.60.

Do these near misses make him anything other than Player of the Season?  Of course not. If he was the ‘Nearly Man’, the rest were the ‘Nowhere Near Men’. 

He was the fastest man to 1000 first-class runs in nearly a quarter of a century, whilst he scored more runs in first-class cricket than anybody else. He also scored more Championship hundreds and faced more deliveries than anyone else on the county circuit.

Don’t let Compo be the nearly man again. Vote for Nick!

Nash's three Championship hundreds helped
him to over 1500 runs this season. (Pic. Getty
Chris Nash (Sussex)- 1543 runs & 32 wickets by James Herd (@James_Herd)

Ultimately, Chris Nash will be disappointed to have ended the season trophy-less and below the magic ‘1000 run’ mark in the Championship, but his role in this Sussex side can’t be underestimated.

Nash, who became a first team regular fairly late in his career, is now one of the senior players in the side. Not only is he responsible for his own form, but with young, talented players like Matt Machan and Luke Wells coming through, he will be keen to ensure Sussex ‘s recent success continues for years to come.

Nash’s 984 Championship runs at just under 40 with 3 hundreds are part of why I think he deserves the title of Player of the Season, but it doesn’t end there. His part-time ‘Golden Arm’ partnership breakers have been so important this season. 21 wickets at 21.24 and he has only bowled 135 overs. He has developed a habit of breaking big partnerships, often whilst Monty Panesar/Steve Magoffin take a breather.

What makes Nash unique is his incredible consistency over all three forms of the game. His contributions in the CB40 and Twenty20 competitions are a large reason why Sussex reached the semi-finals of both. Not many batsmen scored more in the FLT20, not even his friend currently starring in the international competition, Luke Wright. The Sharks got comprehensively beaten at Finals Day, but that didn’t stop Nash playing one of his finest innings to date.

Nash is a fantastic batsman, a more-than-useful bowler and he has a cricketing brain that has earned him the vice-captaincy. He is one of a growing group of players that can consider themselves very unlucky not to feature more in the international set-up, but their loss has very much been Sussex’s gain.

Onions was one of only two men to pick up
nine wickets in an innings this season. (Pic.
Gareth Copley)
Graham Onions (Durham)- 72 wickets by Richard Moore (@RichardMoore11)

Graham Onions.  A name not to be sniffed at whose performances this year have made my eyes water.

After suffering a career threatening back injury in 2010 that prevented him playing a chunk of last season, the Durham fast bowler has bounced back in style this year with 64 Championship wickets at an average of 14.98.
While many would point to the fact that his record has not been replicated across all forms of the game, one must recognise that the County Championship is the ultimate challenge in the domestic game.

What cannot be argued is the influence he has had on what was, during the first half of the season anyway, a struggling Durham team. By mid-May, not only was he leading the bowling attack, he was also leading the batting with an average at the time in the low 30s.

And who will forget that day in August when having been left out of the Test team in the morning, he arrived in Nottingham just in time to take the field and singlehandedly bowl Nottingham out.  In fact it was only his own brilliant fielding that prevented him from claiming all ten wickets. 

No one took more five-wicket hauls than him, no one took more wickets overall than him and remember Durham lost more days cricket than any other team in Division One.  Without all those days lost, how much more successful would he have been?

Roland-Jones' one-day form was exceptional
for Middlesex this season. (Pic. Ben Hoskins)
Toby Roland-Jones (Middlesex)- 79 wickets by Will Atkins (@willatkins92)

Toby Roland-Jones was a relative late-comer to county cricket. Having only made his first class debut two years ago at the age of 22, Toby has wasted no time in building up a reputation as one of the finest bowlers on the circuit. Blessed with bounce, seam movement, and an ability to constantly nag away at the top of off-stump, Roland-Jones led Middlesex’s charge up Division One with 61 wickets, as the newly-promoted county came a remarkable third place, and with 79 wickets overall, Toby was able to earn himself a spot on England’s Performance Programme this winter.

Toby’s season started steadily, if unspectacularly. After an injury ravaged 2011, which saw him miss much of Middlesex’s promotion from Division Two, he was in and out of the team in the early fixtures. However, after he played a key role in the nailbiting two-run victory over Surrey with a crucial 4/25, his spot in the team was assured, and he didn’t look back.

The less said about Middlesex’s T20 tournament the better, but Roland-Jones was comfortably the stand out performer. Seen as a red-ball specialist, TRJ had only played two T20 games prior to this season, and wasn’t due to play many this, but after the late withdrawal of overseas star Lasith Malinga he was thrown into the team and excelled from the off. Picking up 11 wickets from 8 games, including a fiery 4/25 against eventual winners Hampshire in their own back yard, Roland-Jones came of age in limited over cricket, and after winning a spot in Middlesex’s CB40 team was able to take 11 wickets in that format from only 5 matches as well.

While his early season had been good, August saw Roland-Jones go stratospheric. Career best figures of 6/66 against Sussex at Hove in a game in which Middlesex were thoroughly outplayed was just the start, with a five-for at the Oval against Surrey being followed by a match-winning maiden ten-wicket haul against Worcestershire. Coming at a stage of the season where bat was finally beginning to dominate ball, Toby’s spectacular run of form came when Middlesex needed it the most with relegation a distinct possibility, but backed by the firepower of Roland-Jones, they were able to comfortably stay in Division One.

Those at Middlesex had always known Roland-Jones’ potential, but 2012 was the year that everybody else found out about it. Comparisons with Middlesex Director of Cricket Angus Fraser are certainly not unfounded, with Fraser’s legendary accuracy, consistency and fighting spirit all evident in his protégée. Add to that a growing talent with the bat - Roland-Jones made his maiden first class fifty this year – and it’s clear to see why Roland-Jones is being tipped for international success.

Stevens was the only man in the country to record 1000 runs
and take 60 wickets across all three formats. (Pic. Gareth Copley)
Darren Stevens (Kent)- 1023 runs & 62 wickets by Steve Wolfe (@steveksn)

Without a doubt, there is only really one option for the best player to have graced the game for 2012 and that has to be Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens.

At the ripe old age of 36, Stevo as he affectionately known in the Kent dressing room, has shown that with age comes experience and this past season the hard hitter has scored 619 County Championship runs whilst taking 35 invaluable wickets for the side in the longer form of the game.

What the stats don’t tell you is the manner in which he has both scored those runs and taken those wickets.

Stevens has often come in at number six with the side either in trouble and needing to plug up one end, or with the team in complete control and pushing for quick runs.

What has impressed the Canterbury faithful most though is the manner in which Stevens plays the game, with a smile on his face and a certain level of determination that grows ever larger as the years go by.

He has proven to have an uncanny ability of nipping out a wicket or two at crucial times throughout the course of the season and unquestionably, Stevens has once again been instrumental in Kent’s success in both Twenty20 and in the CB40.

It’s not just cricket that Stevens excels at either. A reasonable golfer, a keen cyclist and an equine expert, Stevens likes all of his sports, but it’s when he dons his Kent shirt that he comes alive.

Having recently agreed a new deal at Kent, where he has spent the past seven seasons since signing from Leicestershire, Stevens has to be the most talented all-rounder in the game at present not to have represented England at full international level.

Trego led the Somerset bowling attack this season
due to injuries to others, and finished with nearly
70 wickets. (Pic. Harry Engels)
Peter Trego (Somerset)- 897 runs & 67 wickets by Barnaby Campbell (@barn72)

The tattoos and bravado tell of a showman. The cold hard facts tell of a seriously good cricketer. It is not so much the numbers that stand out although 50 Championship wickets and 600 runs is no mean feat in itself. It is more that in a season plagued by injuries Peter Trego consistently stepped up.

Asked to shoulder the bowling responsibilities seemed to inspire a man usually asked to be the 3rd or 4th seamer and with the added responsibility came results. He did the hard yards. Bowling over 500 overs in Championship cricket alone, half of which were at batting friendly Taunton, showed he was the go to man when a wicket was needed.

Added to this was his dynamic batting at six or seven typified by the near impossible run chase against Sussex when in conjunction with James Hildreth he hit 89 not out off 72 balls to help chase down just shy of 400.

He was Somerset’s leading wicket taker in the Pro40 and only Jos Buttler scored more runs when only a horrific run of four defeats at the start stopped Somerset reaching the semi -finals. Asked to open the batting invariably in the absence of Trescothick or Kieswetter, or both, he responded with some devastating innings, not least a brutal 81 off 49 balls on a raging turner of a pitch at Glamorgan.

No one played more games of cricket across all forms this summer and no one was more crucial to Somerset defying the odds to finish a season, in which 28 players were used in all formats, as the second best team in the country. You only had to see the reaction from every single player on the last day of the season when he took his 50th wicket to realise his value to Somerset.

In his first full season with Warwickshire, Wright finished as
the top wicket-taker in the country. (Pic.Stu Forster)
Chris Wright (Warwickshire)- 86 wickets by Gemma Wright (@onewickedmaiden)

Chris Wrights’ fruitful season with Warwickshire has been topped off by his inclusion in the England Performance Programme squad for the tour of India this winter. Along with winning Player’s Player of the Year at his club, and being nominated for the NatWest Professional Cricketers’ Association Player of the Year Award, it is a fitting end to his first full season with the Bears, in which he took 86 wickets across all three competitions.

Wright joined Warwickshire from Essex after impressing the Bears during his loan spell at Edgbaston in 2011, where he managed two five wicket hauls in their Championship campaign. Though usually described as fast-medium, he can at times be decidedly quick, as quite a few county batsmen can confirm. Aptly, he took the final three wickets needed to clinch the Championship for Warwickshire this season, finishing that match at Worcestershire with figures of 5-24 and 4-65.

His 67 Championship wickets at 23.31 were accompanied by 20 at 20.8 in the Pro 40, helping Warwickshire to the final at Lord’s, where Hampshire beat them in a final ball thriller. Had Wright not picked up an injury in that game, the close result may well have swung in Warwickshire’s favour.

In the PCA FTI MVP rankings Wright came 6th overall, scoring more bowling points than any other player. He has been part of one of the most formidable county bowling attacks of 2012, alongside Keith Barker (72 wickets) and Jeetan Patel (67 wickets).

Graeme Welch, the Warwickshire bowling coach responsible for bringing Wright to Edgbaston after first spotting his talent when he worked with him at Essex, has duly had his faith in the bowler’s ability rewarded. Essex will be kicking themselves for letting Wright go. Their loss, Warwickshire’s gain.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

County Cricket end of season report: Part One (Derbyshire-Leicestershire)

At the end of a long season of cricket, the 18 counties will take stock of their campaign in all three formats and reflect on the highs and lows of what was a memorable campaign for a number of reasons.

At Eighteen Into Fourteen Doesn't Go we have taken in upon ourselves to carry out these reviews ourselves and try to work out which sides will be pleased with their campaign and which will be licking their wounds after disappointing summers.

Wayne Madsen led Derbyshire impeccably as they secured
promotion to Division One. (Pic. Derbyshire CCC)
Derbyshire (LVCC Div. Two: Winners; CB40: Group Stages (4th in Group C); FLT20: Group Stages (5th in North))- Promotion to Division One was the Falcon's reward for their best Championship season of the 21st century as Karl Krikken galvanised his young side and watched as they executed their skills perfectly throughout the Championship season.

Wayne Madsen led the side impeccably and dug them out of some sticky situations towards the end of the campaign with his much improved batting whilst overseas players Martin Guptill and Usman Khawja played the crucial innings' that are needed by those who played international cricket.

Even two disappointing one-day campaigns couldn't dampen their spirits as they look forward to playing cricket at the top table of English domestic cricket for the first time since 2000. It will be interesting to see if they look to add to their squad as it looks from afar that it will need bolstering if they are to survive relegation in 2013.

Star pupil: Wes Durston (1290 runs & 33 wickets)
Must do better: Paul Borrington (321 runs)
Final grade: A

Onions was the top Championship wicket taker in the country,
with 64 scalps to his name. (Pic. Mike Hewitt)
Durham (LVCC Div. One: 6th; CB40: Group Stages (5th in Group B); FLT20: Group Stages (3rd in North))- With two months of the season to go, it looked as if 2012 was going to be a disastrous year for all concerned with Durham CCC. Bottom of the Championship table without a win to their name and looking unlikely to make any impact on the limited overs competitions, things looked bleak at Chester-le-Street for many people's tips for county champions.

The decision to make Paul Collingwood captain of the four-day side in place of Phillip Mustard was a masterstroke as the former England all-rounder led the Dynamos to five wins from their final six Championship matches and helped steer them to safety.

The retirement of Michael Di Venuto mid-season meant a number of players were rotated at the top of the order and it will be the batting unit as a whole that needs to improve next season if they are win some silverware.

Star pupil: Graham Onions (72 wickets)
Must do better: Will Smith (474 runs)
Final grade: C+

Essex skipper James Foster will be frustrated by his team's
lack of consistency in 2012. (Pic. Sky Sports)
Essex (LVCC Div. Two: 5th; CB40: Group Stages (5th in Group A); FLT20: Quarter Finals)- Consistently inconsistent, Essex flattered to deceive at various stages throughout the season and eventually finished the campaign with very little to show from it other than qualifying out of the groups in the Friends Life t20.

David Masters apart, their bowlers were sporadic at best will need to show much more consistency if the Chelmsford outfit are to challenge for promotion next season. Reece Topley's development looks like bearing fruit, but others must step up to the plate more often for the Eagles to succeed.

Alviro Petersen and Harbhajan Singh had their moments during their respective spells as overseas players, but neither could provide the international experience on a regular basis that the side needed.

Fans have questioned whether the club needs an overhaul over the winter, with some of the 'deadwood' being replaced by talented youngsters and new faces. It is looking more likely that Ravi Bopara will be available for more of the season in 2013, which will at least be something of a boost.

Star pupil: David Masters (57 wickets)
Must do better: Ryan ten Doeschate (745 runs & 18 wickets)
Final grade: C+

Glamorgan will have a big hole to fill after the retirement of
veteran off-spinner Robert Croft. (Pic. Paul Greenwood)
Glamorgan (LVCC Div. Two: 6th; CB40: Group Stages (6th in Group B); FLT20: Group Stages (5th in Mid/West/Wales))- Without a Championship win in mid-July and already out of both limited overs competitions, things were bleak in the Welsh capital, and I'm not just talking about the weather.

The SWALEC Stadium outfit managed to turn things around though, and they finished with three wins in the four-day game, including the defeat of Kent in the final week of the season when the Spitfires required a victory for promotion.

Robert Croft took a five-wicket haul in that match as a reminder as to how much he will be missed by the Dragons, but the remainder of their attack looks in good order if they can avoid injury, although the imminent loss of James Harris will be a blow. Their young batsmen must improve if they are to become promotion challengers but the future is bright in South Wales.

Star pupil: Jim Allenby (936 runs & 53 wickets)
Must do better: Dean Cosker (23 wickets)
Final grade: C-

Captain Alex Gidman has stepped down after leading the Bristol
outfit to a 9th placed finish in Division Two. (Pic. BBC Sport)
Gloucestershire (LVCC Div. Two: 9th; CB40: Group Stage (3rd in Group A); FlT20: Quarter Finals)- Despite improving in the limited overs game, 2012 will always be remembered by Gloucestershire fans as the year they finished bottom of the County Championship.

Three Championship wins in a season dominated by rain would usually see you finish in mid-table, but after losing six matches in their quest to try win weather-affected matches they ultimately lost out whilst others gained considerably (their two matches against Yorkshire are a prime example of this).

Kane Williamson was a revelation as an overseas player, but with a spell that only six weeks long, they were left short in the batting department for much of the season. Will Gidman's lengthy injury absence was also a blow, although their other bowlers did display enough wicket-taking ability to reassure the members at Bristol.

Alex Gidman's resignation as captain leaves the door open for someone else to take up the mantle, and it is rumoured that the club is looking for an overseas skipper to turn around their fortunes in 2013.

Star pupil: Hamish Marshall (1279 runs)
Must do better: Richard Coughtrie (125 runs)
Final grade: D

Hampshire's players had a lot to celebrate in 2012 as they won
both limited overs trophies. (Pic. Deep Extra Cover)
Hampshire (LVCC Div. Two: 4th; CB40: Winners; FLT20: Winners)- The undisputed best limited overs side in the country. Winning both domestic competitions is almost unheard of in the modern county game, and the AGEAS Bowl outfit were worthy victors in both tournaments.

Despite their successes, some sections of their supporters will be frustrated that they threw away the chance of gaining promotion back to Division One of the Championship at the first time of asking after they lost their final three matches of the season after finding themselves in second place heading into the final month.

In terms of personnel, it looks unlikely that Simon Katich or Neil McKenzie will return, but it is hoped James Vince can find his form and become a regular in the four-day side. Danny Briggs is another young player who has been left out of the Championship team, and if he is continue his development he needs to find a way back into the starting eleven.

After the disappointment of this season, they will be amongst the favourites for promotion in 2013 and I wouldn't count against them recording an unprecedented treble.

Star pupil: Jimmy Adams (1515 runs)
Must do better: Danny Briggs (30 wickets)
Final grade: A

Kent captain Rob Key will be hoping his side can go one better
and gain promotion in 2013. (Pic. Getty Images)
Kent (LVCC Div. Two: 3rd; CB40: Group Stages (3rd in Group C); FLT20: Group Stages (4th in South)- Heading into the season with almost an entirely new side being led by a new coach, 2012 could have gone either way for the team from Canterbury.

In the end, Spitfires fans can look back at what their side achieved, although they will also believe that it could have been so much better. Defeat on the last day of the season cost them a chance of promotion in the Championship whilst they missed on the semi-finals of the CB40 by virtue of winning less matches than Warwickshire in the group stages.

Of their new signings, Mark Davies performed tremendously without taking the wickets he deserved whilst Charlie Shreck and Brendan Nash contributed well. Youngsters Sam Northeast and Matt Coles came of age whilst Darren Stevens is as dangerous as he has ever been in his long career.

Whether Kent need to strengthen next season is up for debate, but I for one feel that if the weather has less of an affect in 2013 they will be favourites for promotion.

Star pupil: Darren Stevens (1023 runs & 62 wickets)
Must do better: Mike Powell (647 runs)
Final grade: B+

Steven Croft was one of the few Lancashire players who could
hold their head high this season. (Pic. Getty Images)
Lancashire (LVCC Div. One: 8th; CB40: Semi Finals; FLT20: Group Stages (4th in North))- In 2011, Lancashire were celebrating a County Championship title that no one had predicted at the beginning of the campaign.

Twelve months later, the Red Rose county are now looking forward to a season in Division Two after a disastrous four-day campaign that yielded just one victory and saw them relegated in the penultimate round of matches.

The Old Trafford faithful's misery was compounded when they were knocked out of the CB40 by Warwickshire when favourites to win the competition whilst their Friends Life t20 campaign was spoiled by rain and Duckworth-Lewis.

On the whole their squad disappointed, though Steven Croft, Ashwell Prince and Glen Chapple are not among that number, and it will be interesting to see if Peter Moores feels the need to strengthen ahead of next term.

Star pupil: Steven Croft (1492 runs & 16 wickets)
Must do better: Kyle Hogg (18 wickets)
Final grade: D+

Young all-rounder Shiv Thakor made quite an impact in
his maiden season with in the Foxes first eleven. (Pic.
Getty Images)
Leicestershire (LVCC Div. Two: 7th; CB40: Group Stages (6th in Group A); FLT20: Group Stages (6th in North)- Losing talent such as James Taylor, Harry Gurney and Paul Nixon would hurt any county, never mind the one that finished bottom of Division Two in 2011 with only one win to their name.

The Foxes fought back, though, and finished the season in a respectful seventh place after a win in the last week over Gloucestershire. They still have much improving to do if they are to challenge for the promotion spots, but 2012 was a season of re-building at Grace Road.

The decision to make Josh Cobb their limited overs captain midway through the season saw a late upturn in their fortunes in the CB40 whilst the less said about their FLT20 campaign the better.

Wayne White was outstanding with both bat and ball whilst youngsters Shiv Thakor, Nathan Buck and Ned Eckersley are all set for big futures in the game. Leicestershire fans will be hoping those futures lie with their county, and no someone else's.

Star pupil: Wayne White (889 runs & 54 wickets)
Must do better: Alex Wyatt (12 wickets)
Final grade: C-

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

CB40 Team of the Season

Hampshire secured their second trophy of the season against
Warwickshire at Lords. (Pic. Getty Images)
Hampshire secured their status as the top one-day side in the country as they beat Warwickshire at Lords in county cricket's showpiece final on the last day of the season.

There was semi-final disappointment for Lancashire and Sussex whilst others were left to reflect on disappointing campaigns where they failed to make it out of the group stage.

1. Mark Stoneman (Durham)- Despite Durham failing to make it to the knockout stages, opener Stoneman had a fine competition and finally secured his place as a regular starter at the top of the order. The left-hander struck three centuries on his way to 558 runs in the competition at an average of just under 70.
Unlucky to miss out: Phil Hughes (Worcestershire)- 498 runs @ 83.00.

2. Stephen Moore (Lancashire)- In a season where he was dropped from the Championship side due to poor form, Moore did at least produce the goods in the shorter formats. Despite only hitting one hundred on his way to 581 runs in the competition, but he also added six further half-centuries in the Red Rose county's run to the semi-finals.
Unlucky to miss out: Varun Chopra (Warwickshire)- 472 runs @ 52.44.

3. Michael Carberry (Hampshire)- Even after suffering an injury half-way through the season, Carberry finished as the top run-scorer in the competition with 598 runs. He passed 50 seven times, including two centuries whilst he averaged over 80 for the competition as a whole.
Unlucky to miss out: Luke Wright (Sussex)- 418 runs @ 59.71.

4. James Vince (Hampshire)- Youngster Vince is another player who failed to hold down a regular place in four-day cricket but then came into his own in the limited overs arena. The 21-year old made 555 runs for the eventual champions at a strike rate of just over 100.
Unlucky to miss out: Dawid Malan (Middlesex)- 445 runs @ 55.62.

5. Steven Croft (Lancashire)- Despite being one of the most underrated batsmen in county cricket, Croft continues to impress, especially in the shorter formats of the game. He made 513 runs despite failing to record a century to highlight his consistency in the middle-order for Peter Moores' side.
Unlucky to miss out: Gary Ballance (Yorkshire)- 469 runs @ 58.62.

6. Phil Mustard (Durham)- His short England career may be something of a distant memory, but Mustard served a reminder in 2012 of his abilities in one-day cricket as he struck three hundreds on his way to 475 runs at a strike rate of over 140. He also finished the tournament with 16 victims behind the stumps.
Unlucky to miss out: Tim Ambrose (Warwickshire)- 321 runs @ 53.50 & 9 victims.

7. Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire)- England all-rounder Patel showed why he is a regular in the national side's one-day team as he excelled with both bat and ball during the tournament. He made 340 runs with the bat whilst he took 15 wickets with his slow left arm bowling.
Unlucky to miss out: Peter Trego (Somerset)- 245 runs @ 27.22 & 15 wickets @ 24.80.

8. Darren Stevens (Kent)- All-rounder Stevens has worked hard at his bowling in recent years and that toil and graft seems to be paying off for the Kent veteran. He took 20 wickets in the group stages at an average of just over 16 whilst he also made 197 runs with the bat.
Unlucky to miss out: Matt Coles (Kent)- 17 wickets @ 16.52.

9. Ajmal Shahzad (Lancashire)- From afar it may seem that Lancashire's loan move for seamer Shahzad wasn't wholly successful, but he quietly made his way to top of the wicket-taking charts in the CB40 as he finished the competition with 21 scalps. He was consistent throughout as he only took a single four-wicket haul in his 11 matches.
Unlucky to miss out: Chris Wood (Hampshire)- 19 wickets @ 26.89.

10. Chris Wright (Warwickshire)- Seamer Wright completed his finest season to date as he took 20 wickets in the Bears' run to the final at Lords. He never took more than three wickets in a match but he was a consistent performer with the ball for Ashley Giles' side.
Unlucky to miss out: Jack Shantry (Worcestershire)- 20 wickets @ 24.50.

11. Gary Keedy (Lancashire)- Simon Kerrigan may have taken over the mantle of first choice spinner in the Championship, but Keedy showed that there is life in the old dog yet as he took 20 CB40 wickets, including a five-wicket haul against Middlesex.
Unlucky to miss out: Danny Briggs (Hampshire)- 19 wickets @ 21.57.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Division Two Team of the Season

Wayne Madsen (centre) was instrumental in Derbyshire's
success in 2012. (Pic. Getty Images)
Derbyshire secured their first ever promotion to Division One as they finished top of the table after a fantastic season whilst unbeaten Yorkshire will join them at the top table of English domestic season as they finished second.

Kent and Hampshire were left to lick their wounds as defeats towards the end of the campaign saw them finish third and fourth respectively whilst Gloucestershire had a season to forget at they finished bottom of the pile.

1. Jimmy Adams (Hampshire)- Despite Hampshire's failure to bounce back after relegation last season, Adams had a fine season, and was surprisingly overlooked in the discussions surrounding who would replace Andrew Strauss at the top of the order for England. He was the top run scorer in Division Two as he made 987 runs across the season, including three centuries.
Unlucky to miss out: Adam Lyth (Yorkshire)- 751 runs @ 53.64.

2. Sam Northeast (Kent)- After being left out of the side for much of the first half of the season, Northeast proved his doubters wrong with some excellent performances as the campaign drew to a close. The young right hander made 880 runs in his 11 matches, including five fifties and three centuries.
Unlucky to miss out: Robert Key (Kent)- 797 runs @ 37.95.

3. Wayne Madsen (Derbyshire)- As well as becoming a title-winning captain, Madsen had a fine individual season with the bat as he made 885 Championship runs. He was helped by a double hundred against Northamptonshire whilst he reached three figures another two times earlier in the season.
Unlucky to miss out: Phil Jaques (Yorkshire)- 792 runs @ 44.00.

4. Ramnaresh Sarwan (Leicestershire)- West Indies' loss was Leicestershire's gain as Sarwan prospered in his first season at Grace Road. The experienced right hander finished on 941 Championship runs and may well have finished as the top scorer in the division had he played the final two matches for the Foxes.
Unlucky to miss out: Hamish Marshall (Gloucestershire)- 822 runs @ 37.36.

5. Brendan Nash (Kent)- There were some excellent performances from some overseas players, and Nash was no different as he made 908 runs for the Canterbury outfit. The West Indian international made three hundreds and a further four fifties in a fine maiden first-class season in English cricket.
Unlucky to miss out: Dan Redfern (Derbyshire)- 792 runs @ 37.71.

6. Wes Durston (Derbyshire)- All-rounder Durston is one of the few success stories to come out of the Unicorns, and he showed why during 2012 as he was instrumental in Derbyshire's promotion challenge. He made 801 runs with the bat whilst his off-spin bowling contributed 22 Championship wickets.
Unlucky to miss out: Jim Allenby (Glamorgan)- 712 runs @ 41.88 & 38 wickets @ 24.94.

7. Ned Eckersley (Leicestershire)- Wicketkeeper Eckersley had the unenviable task of replacing Paul Nixon in the Leicestershire side, but he showed that he can continue the legacy of fine keepers at Grace Road. The 23-year old made 739 Championship runs whilst he also ended the season with 43 victims behind the stumps.
Unlucky to miss out: Geraint Jones (Kent)- 677 runs @ 42.31 & 52 victims.

8. Matt Coles (Kent)- After spending the winter training with the England Performance Programme, Coles burst onto the scene this season by taking 52 Championship wickets, although most of those came in the first half of the campaign. He also added some good runs with the bat, including a maiden first-class century against Yorkshire at Headingley.
Unlucky to miss out: Will Gidman (Gloucestershire)- 44 wickets @ 21.43.

9. Tony Palladino (Derbyshire)- Former Essex seamer Palladino is another player who has prospered since leaving Chelmsford and he will now become a Division One player after returning some excellent figures in Derbyshire's promotion push. He took 56 wickets including three five-wicket hauls to be the Falcons' top wicket-taker.
Unlucky to miss out: David Wainwright (Derbyshire)- 44 wickets @ 31.36.

10. Charlie Shreck (Kent)- After moving from Nottinghamshire in the winter, Shreck had a fine maiden season for the Spitfires as he took 55 Championship wickets despite his side falling just short in their quest for promotion.
Unlucky to miss out: Steven Patterson (Yorkshire)- 48 wickets @ 20.81.

11. David Balcombe (Hampshire)- In a strange coincidence, Hampshire missed out on promotion despite having the top run-scorer and top wicket-taker in the competition. Balcombe finished one wicket short of 60 Championship scalps whilst he was one of only three bowlers to take ten wickets in a match (with Jonathan Clare and Robbie Joseph).
Unlucky to miss out: David Masters (Essex)- 46 wickets @ 18.97.

Division One Team of the Season

Warwickshire were the outstanding team throughout 2012 in
Division One. (Pic. EM Pics)
Warwickshire won their first County Championship since 2004 as they dominated from start to finish, losing just one of their sixteen matches to second-placed Somerset.

At the other end of the table, Worcestershire couldn't pull off the great escape for the second season running and they will be joined in Division Two by 2011 champions Lancashire after they lost out to Surrey and Durham in the fight for survival.

A number of players excelled during 2012, with some continuing their form from previous seasons whilst others came out of the woodwork to have good seasons.

1. Varun Chopra (Warwickshire)- After a bumper 2011 in which he scored two Championship double-hundreds, Chopra was again in excellent form as he made 1028 runs in his 26 innings'. He passed 50 a total of eight times, converting three of those instances into centuries, and made a crucial 195 in his side's title-clinching match against Worcestershire.
Unlucky to miss out: Ed Joyce (Sussex)- 829 runs @ 39.47.

2. Chris Nash (Sussex)- Despite still waiting for his international debut, Nash is one of the most talented opening batsmen in county cricket, and he again had an excellent season in four-day cricket. He missed out on 1000 Championship runs by just 16, although he did score three hundreds over the course of the season. He also took 21 wickets with his occasional off-spin.
Unlucky to miss out: Joe Denly (Middlesex)- 840 runs @ 35.00.

3. Chris Rogers (Middlesex)- After taking over the Middlesex captaincy early in the season, Rogers was in outstanding form throughout the year as he passed 1000 Championship runs. The left hander made six fifties and a further three hundreds as the Lords outfit marked their return to the top flight with a third place finish.
Unlucky to miss out: Michael Lumb (Nottinghamshire)- 910 runs @ 39.56.

4. Nick Compton (Somerset)- What more can be said about Compton that hasn't already been said over the summer of 2012? The Somerset batsman made 1191 Championship runs at an average of 99.25 whilst he was the only player in the country to make four centuries in the competition. His form was rewarded with a call-up to the England squad to tour India next month.
Unlucky to miss out: Dawid Malan (Middlesex)- 827 runs @ 31.80.

5. Ashwell Prince (Lancashire)- Despite Lancashire's relegation to Division Two, overseas star Prince was arguably one of the top players in Championship as he scored 1008 runs. Only Compton (11) passed 50 more times than the South African, who converted two of his ten half-centuries into hundreds.
Unlucky to miss out: James Hildreth (Somerset)- 946 runs @ 43.00.

6. Chris Read (Nottinghamshire)- Outlaws captain Read showed why is still regarded as one of the top wicketkeeper-batsmen in the country and he showed why over the course of 2012 as he made 975 runs over the course of the season. He regularly dug the Trent Bridge outfit out of a number of bad situations with the bat whilst he finished with 44 victims behind the stumps.
Unlucky to miss out: Craig Kieswetter (Somerset)- 654 runs @ 50.30 & 29 victims.

7. Peter Trego (Somerset)- All-rounder Trego was given the task of leading an injury-hit Somerset attack and he stepped-up to the plate in a dramatic fashion. He finished the Championship season with 50 wickets, whilst he also contributed 600 runs with the bat to complete a memorable campaign.
Unlucky to miss out: Rikki Clarke (Warwickshire)- 760 runs @ 44.70 & 20 wickets @ 27.70.

8. Toby Roland-Jones (Middlesex)- Seamer Roland-Jones came of age throughout 2012 and his Championship form was something to behold as Middlesex thrived on their return to Division One. The 24-year old took 61 wickets at an average of less than 20 as part of an impressive seam attack that Angus Fraser has brought together.
Unlucky to miss out: Steve Magoffin (Sussex)- 57 wickets @ 20.05.

9. Chris Wright (Warwickshire)- Former Essex man Wright has rediscovered his best form since he arrived at Edgbaston towards the end of last season. He is now described as one of the fastest bowlers in county cricket and was rewarded for a Championship campaign where he took 62 wickets with a place on the England Performance Programme over the winter.
Unlucky to miss out: Tim Murtagh (Middlesex)- 59 wickets @ 23.74.

10. Jeetan Patel (Warwickshire)- After Gary Keedy turned down the Bears over the winter, Ashley Giles moved to bring in New Zealander Patel as an overseas player. The off-spinner reacted with performances that saw him recalled by the Black Caps by the end of the season as he took over 50 wickets whilst he also made over 200 crucial runs in the lower order.
Unlucky to miss out: Monty Panesar (Sussex)- 53 wickets @ 23.15.

11. Graham Onions (Durham)- England seamer Onions may not have made as many appearances for the national team as he would have liked this season, but his county performances certainly more than made up for that. He was the top wicket-taker in the competition, returning 64 wickets at an amazing average of less than 15. Th fact he only played 12 matches makes his achievements even more impressive.
Unlucky to miss out: Alan Richardson (Worcestershire)- 57 wickets @ 19.52.