Sunday, 28 September 2008

2008 County Awards

While it didn't quite match the sheer last-gasp drama of the 2007 County Championship, the '08 one still had an extraordinary ending, with three sides harbouring hopes of winning it until well into he final game. And, such was the competition's tightness, that Kent went from favourites to being relegated in all of nine days.

Of course, the dreadful weather played a huge pat in ensuring such a tight race. Still, there was much to saviour, with Durham's maiden championship just rewards for a county consisting of quality players from overseas and a plethora of home-grown talent.

(These are based on all county cricket, but with an emphasis on the Championship and especially Division One).

Best player: Hard to look beyond Steve Harmison, though Ravi Bopara comes close. After his humiliation in New Zealand, his comeback was quite stunning. The third highest wicket-taker in Division One - perhaps not much of a surprise. But the manner in which he improved his consistency and subtlty to take 35 one-day wickets - no one managed more - was testament to his desire for self-improvement. It was fitting that he wrapped up the championship with a spectacular spell of three wickets in four balls.

Best batsman:
Oddly, no stands out: Mark Ramprakash had a disappointing season by his Herculenean standards, but still finished top of the Division One averages. But Murray Goodwin, a player who oozes class in all he does, deserves the accolade.

Best bowler:
Harmison.

Best performance: Martin van Jaarsveld had what can only be described as the perfect game during Kent's turnaround victory at The Oval. Two unbeaten centuries, leading his side to a testing run-chase victory, and 5/33 with his very occasional offspin. Simply phenomenal.

Most astonishing win: Sussex stealing the Pro40 crown at Trent Bridge, when they required 97 from 10 overs with just two wickets remaining. But in Goodwin, they have a man of exraordinarily cool temperament - as well as all the shots. With Mohammad Sami providing fine support, he got it down to 16 off the last over - and won the title with a final-ball six.

Most influential player: Imran Tahir was an ignominious failure for Yorkshire last season but revitalised Hampshire's season with his leg-spin. 44 wickets at 16 turned a sinking ship into, briefly, title contenders.

Best comeback (1): The season was awash with them, led by Harmison. But, though his season ended in another injury, Simon Jones's 42 scalps - at 18 apiece - showed that he could well still have an England future.

Best comeback (2): Tony Frost was meant to be on he Warwickshire groundstaff this season. Instead he answered an SOS when Tim Ambrose was wanted by England. He hit 1000 first-runs runs at 83: not too shabby.

Worst overseas signing: Shoaib Akhtar, half-fit and at a five-figure expense for one wicket in two innings defeats. An embarassment, much like the club he played for.

Most under-rated players: Harmison got the plaudits, and rightly so, but Mark Davies and Calum Thorp deserve them too. Starting the season in the Durham 2nds, they took 91 wickets at 18 between them: stunning, and enough to leave one-time England prospects Plunkett and Onions carrying the drinks.

Biggest chockers: Nottinghamshire should have done the double. But Sussex' jaw-dropping snatching of the Pro40 crown, and a feeble collapse against Hampshire, when they were on course to build a decisive first-innings lead, meant they ended with nothing. And Chris Read, so admirable as skipper, will have those believing this is further evidence he is a man who does not relish pressure.

What are your thoughts on this campaign? Share your views by leaving a comment below.

If you're interested in writing a season review for your county, please email it cricketingworld@hotmail.com.

5 comments:

Richard Lake said...

My alternatives on this

Batsman:
Will Smith. Durham do play in seasmer friendly conditions and Will Smith, who started the season as Paul Collingwood's replacement. However, Smith finshed within touching distance of a thousand runs and comfortably ahead of Shiv Chanderpaul and Mike di Venuto in the averages. The Durham bowlers rightly desrve the plaudits, but so does their best batsman.

Bowler of the Year
James Tomlinson.
Imran Tahir turned things around for Hampshire, but without the efforts of James Tomlinson, they'd have been dead and buried well before he turned up.

Disappointment of the Year
Kent
Despite having the PCA top rated player in van Jaarsveld and two opening batsmen who pundits have been clamoring to get into the England team, their relegation was deserved. They showed little appetite for a fight throughout the season and may find that bouncing straight back is not as easy as it was for Warwickshire and Worcester.

Fondest Farewell
So farewell then: Mushtaq Ahmed, Graham Hick and Darren Gough. All willl be hugely missed.

Anonymous said...

James Tomlinson was the leading wicket taker in Division 1 not Steve Harmison!

Chrispy said...

I would like to champion Tomlinson as well who has gone under the radar this season, but recognise Harmison's return to the top as a very worthy winner. He had to turn it around and prove people wrong and under pressure he did that. Well done Harmi. Smith was definitely English bat of the year. Oh and Hampshire made two worse overseas signings Tim if it consoles you, Shane Warne and Shane Watson! ;-)

Tim said...

Thanks guys - I agree that Tomlinson and Smith were both superb and deserving of credit.

Have changed the Harmy error - apologies, but my research skills weren't what they should have been on a Sunday night!

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