As Division One of the County Championship draws to a close with Middlesex sealing the title ahead of Yorkshire and Somerset, we take a look at this season’s top performers.
County Championship: Division One Team Of The Season
- Marcus Trescothick (Somerset)
Only last year, there was a point at which it looked as though Marcus Trescothick‘s retirement was imminent. With his contract up at the end of the 2015 season, an indifferent run in first-class cricket coupled with white-ball form so poor he was dropped from both the Twenty20 and 50-over sides, the ex-England opener was in a mess.
However, since he started to wear glasses midway through last season, the 40-year-old has been in sublime form with the bat, and earlier this season overtook Harold Gimblett to become Somerset’s record century-maker.
Whilst he relinquished the captaincy to Chris Rogers over the winter, Trescothick remains a legendary figure at Taunton, and lifting the side’s inaugural Championship title would mean the world to him.
2. Keaton Jennings (Durham)
Johannesburg-born Keaton Jennings has been one of the bright spots in an average season for Durham, and the fact that he has renewed his contract to stay at the Riverside next year is a relief for the debt-laden county.
Jennings was the first man to reach 1,000 runs in Division One this season – Nick Gubbins was tantalisingly close, stranded on 999 when Jennings passed the landmark – and looks certain to end the season as leading run-scorer.
The 24-year-old has increased his number of first-class centuries from five to twelve in 2016, and may well feel hard done by to miss out on selection for England‘s tour of Bangladesh at the expense of the less prolific Hameeb Hameed.
3. Nick Gubbins (Middlesex)
His televised hundred against Yorkshire to seal the title for Middlesex was a remarkable innings, but it was by no means the first time Nick Gubbins had played a fine hand this season.
Indeed, the Radley-educated opener managed a mammoth 1409 runs over the course of the season, and his contribution was a massive factor in Middlesex’s title charge.
4. Alviro Petersen (Lancashire)
Lancashire endured a tough season in Division One, staying up on the final day of the season despite capitulating against Durham.
However, without the runs of the aforementioned Hameed and South African Alviro Petersen, things could have been a lot worse.
The 35-year-old hit 1134 runs in his 24 innings, and the red rose county will be hoping that they can keep hold of him in 2017.
5. Peter Trego (Somerset)
Somerset’s cult hero Pete Trego has usually featured as a seamer who could bat aggressively in the County Championship, but this season knuckled down as a batsman.
An astonishing run of six consecutive first-class fifties towards the start of the season dug the side out of trouble, and he managed to reach 1,000 runs in a season for the first time in the final innings of the season.
With Chris Rogers retiring from all cricket, Somerset need a new red-ball captain; in Trego, they may well have a ready-made replacement on the books already.
6. Ben Foakes (Surrey)
Ever since his Essex debut, Ben Foakes has been earmarked as an England prospect, and his form with the bat and the gloves this season for Surrey led to speculation that he could be included in the Test squad for the Bangladesh tour.
Whilst this did not come to fruition, Foakes has been the best keeper in the country this season, just ahead of John Simpson, and his return of 759 Championship runs was crucial to Surrey’s success.
7. Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire)
Whilst it is harsh to leave 18-year-old Sam Curran out of this side given the season he has enjoyed, the performances of ex-England man Tim Bresnan as a middle-order batsman and seamer for Yorkshire make it impossible to overlook his contributions.
Bresnan’s first-innings hundred in the title showdown at Lord’s was an innings that will live long in the memory of those who witnessed it, and his 722 runs and 31 wickets were key in helping Yorkshire challenge for a third consecutive title.
8. Toby Roland-Jones (Middlesex)
Roland-Jones’ hat-trick to seal the Championship for Middlesex was a brilliant way to end a fantastic season for the 28-year-old.
He was called into the England Test squad to face Pakistan in July, and will tour with the Lions this winter; but it was his 54-wicket contribution for the Seaxes that really stood out.
A capable batsman, ‘TRJ‘ also biffed a vital 79* off 51 deliveries in Middlesex’s win at Scarborough against Yokrshire, a victory which proved crucial in the title race.
9. Keith Barker (Warwickshire)
LWOS tipped Warwickshire for the title this season, but they fell a long way short of the mark thanks to the poor form of their top order.
However, left-arm seamer Keith Barker did his best to win games single-handedly for the Bears. His 59 wickets were the most by a Division One seamer.
10. Ollie Rayner (Middlesex)
Until this season, Ollie Rayner was used to doing a pretty dull job for Middlesex. He was often brought on to contain opposition batsman and stifle run-scoring, and used to improve the side’s over-rate; but under James Franklin‘s captaincy, he has come into his own.
Franklin has trusted him as a wicket-taking option, and the 6ft4in German has repaid that faith. His 51 scalps at 23.57 earned him a place in the Lions squad this winter and spun Middlesex to their first title since 1993.
11. Jack Leach (Somerset)
Known affectionately as ‘Taunton Vettori’ by the Somerset faithful, Jack Leach has been the main beneficiary of some turning pitches at the County Ground this summer.
With 65 Championship wickets to his name, Leach has shot himself to hero status at Taunton, and there was justifiably outrage when he was not named in England’s squad this winter.