As an epic Championship race comes to an end, it's time to review the 2007 county season with Third Umpire's end-of-season awards.
Best player: His side didn't even come close to the honours, but it simply has to be Mark Ramprakash. Averaging 100 in consecutive seasons simply defies belief; an unprecedented achievement for the consummate professional and master technician. And finally, the first man to hit 10 first-class hundreds in a season since, well, himself.
Best batsman: Same again.
Best bowler:A toss up between two 38-year-olds (Andy Caddick and Otis Gibson) and the irrepressible Mushtaq Ahmed. Gibson's superhuman deeds in Divison One, and match-winning Friends Provident display, shade it.
Best performance: Otis Gibson's 10-47 against Hampshire was simply extraordinary.
Best hat-trick: Ryan McLaren's memorable effort in Kent's Twenty20Cup Final win.
Best match: Though ultimately it proved not to be close, for sheer quality and intensity Sussex's crucial victory over Lancashire at Liverpool.
Most valiant run chase: Lancashire's 464 on the final day against Surrey, just beating Surrey's very own 467 against Hampshire which, not coincidentally, were both at the Oval. Now, if only Lancs had showed similar application in the aforementioned Sussex clash.
Most ridiculous rant: Bob Willis, take a bow. His claim that former internationals like Hick, Crawley and Ramprakash were "clogging up" the system was totally nonsensical. On the contrary, they raise the standard - and are invaluable for youngsters to learn from.
Best decision (1): Chris Adams' 11th-hour u-turn when Yorkshire came calling. He was vindicated as, under his astute captaincy, Sussex won the Championship once more.
Best decision (2): Surrey effectively sacking Azhar Mahmood, seldom a first-class match-winner, and signing Harbhajan Singh in his place. Singh, with much to prove after being dropped by India, was the catalyst for their spectacular mid-season change of fortunes, claiming 37 wickets in just six games and providing the penetration his side had so lacked previously.
Worst decision (1): The ECB re-jigging the recruitment rules and banning the second overseas player from next season. They have helped immeasurably in improving the quality of cricket. Better, surely, to introduce serious preventive measures to ensure counties always field at least eight players eligible for England at that time.
Worst decision (2): The London-based dentist who paid for Jimmy Maher to be Glamorgan's overseas player. Maher suffered a sad crisis-in-confidence, averaging a paltry 17 in eight first-class games in a Glamorgan season that went from one nadir to the next. Meanwhile his early season stand-in, Matthew Elliot, was excellent.
Saddest tale: Staying with Glamorgan, Simon Jones' depressing transformation from reverse-swing king to a stuttering run-up - and one first-class wicket for 290. A move may just reinvigorate him but, though he is just 28, you would get long odds on him playing for England again.
Best emerging player: A rare bright spot for Glammy, 17-year-old James Harris took 12 wickets against Gloucestershire, and continued to impress therafter, finishing with 33 wickets at just 23. And, as shown by an 88*, he can bat too.
Biggest red-herring: Sussex suffering innings defeats in games two and three, only to bounce back to record consecutive Championship titles.
Most predictable match-winner: The irrepressible Mushtaq Ahmed was at it again, claiming 90 first-class wickets including 13 in their final Championship win. Whether he is Sussex's finest ever player is certainly up for debate; but he is, surely, their biggest ever match-winner.
Most hyped-up player: Adil Rashid was always in the spotlight after his heroics last season. His batting develop tremendously (average 46) but his leg-spin still lacks control, and he found things mighty tough towards the end. Still, well worth an A tour and near-certain to play for England one day.
Biggest proof of the quality of the county game: The plethora of superb spinners on the circuit, although this was fall next season. Shane Warne, Mushtaq, Muralitharan, Harbhajan, Danish Kaneria, Murali Kartik and Monty Panesar bring immense spinning quality to the game. Hopefully Adil Rashid, whose bowling stuttered somewhat after a fine start, and Mike Munday, who recorded match figures of 10-60 in the season's final game, can learn a thing or two.
Best captain: For a pair of promotions and stamping his authority over a talented but hitherto underachieving side, it has to be Justin Langer, who scored copious runs to boot. Elsewhere, Rob key was excellent in leading Kent's Twenty20 triumph, while Adams was as combative as ever.
Most heart-warming story: Worcestershire overcoming floods and Championship thrashings to win the Pro40 league was a tremendous show of character.
Easiest scapegoat: The Pro40. Derided primarily for being 40 overs (how much difference does the loss of 10 middle overs really make?) it provided some enthralling action during the summer holidays. As Worcestershire illustrated, a competition starting in mid-season can reinvigorate a county. With only eight games, it is short and sweet; and, above all, it proved a lot of fun.
Dream Championship XI (both divisions, based on first-class form only):
Justin Langer (captain)
Michael Di Venuto
Tim Ambrose (wicket-keeper)
(With Murali replacing Bichel on turning tracks)
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