While the southern section of 99.94 has been enjoying the forced month long interruption to the international cricket calendar, The Tooting Trumpet has kept his keen eye on the finish of the English domestic season and below presents his selection of the best players from the cricketing diaspora that entertain on the manicured paddocks of the United Kingdom throughout the northern summer.
2008 County Championship Team of the Year
The much maligned County Championship was in doubt until its very last day. England’s newest First Class County, Durham, went one better than last year to claim a historic first title. Many, many years of hard work since long before first class status was granted in 1992, has borne fruit for the England’s most northern county and no praise is too high for their achievement.
But who are the players of the season? The Trumpet’s XI of 2008 is named below.
1. Marcus Trescothick – At home at batsman-friendly Taunton against batsman-friendly county attacks. An er… sweet season for Banger.
2. Dale Benkenstein (Capt) – Not really an opener, but a captain who has inspired Durham’s climb to the summit of the English domestic game.
3. Mark Ramprakash – In a dismal season for Surrey, his excellence at either end of the summer avoided a complete debacle for the erstwhile trophy collectors of South London.
4. Murray Goodwin – Another veteran whose career has been largely played out in domestic cricket, the Zimbabwean also played for a county that endured a difficult season, which would have been much worse without his consistent and important runs. Note to captain – numbers 3 and 4 in the order may have to use pegs at either end of the dressing room.
7. Nic Pothas – Handy keeper, very handy batsman.
8. Adil Rashid – England expects, but when?
9. Ryan McLaren – Penetrative paceman who bats effectively down the order. Following in KP’s footsteps, his brand of cricket is likely to please England’s captain come qualification in 2010.
10. Steve Harmison – If half of England’s Test matches were played at Chester-le-Street and the other half within a few hours drive, he would be looking, if not at Courtney’s 500-odd Test wickets, certainly at Curtly’s 400-odd.
11. James Tomlinson – Quintessential English seamer who topped the wicket-taking chart plugging away there or thereabouts.
These are the men who delivered consistently in Division One over a long, wet season. The top seven are all well over 30, which shows how important experience is in the matter of scoring runs in damp English conditions. Six of the team learned their cricket in Southern Africa, which is partly explained by the implosion of Zimbabwean cricket and the perceived impact of South Africa’s selection policy and partly by England’s best players being under central contracts. Just three of the XI have realistic expectations of playing Test cricket – the question that begs, is whether young English cricketers benefit from playing against such hardened pros or whether the mercenaries are holding back young English talent. The Trumpet favours the former interpretation and challenges young Englishmen to match the Kolpaks.