A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

T20: Stars Of The Season

Posted on July 16, 2011 by in T20

Last night finally saw the annual T20 group stage marathon reach its conclusion. Following 144 games of varying degrees of quality, eight sides are left standing: Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Lancashire cruised through the North Group, with Durham scraping through in fourth place, while Hampshire, Sussex, Kent and Somerset fought their way through from the more competitive South Group.

We’ll be honest – we’re not massive T20 fans at 51allout, having been weaned on a diet of Test cricket from a young age. Nevertheless, it’s a key part of the modern game so we wanted to have a look at some of the best performers over the domestic season. And also make a cheap joke about Steve Smith.

In terms of the top run-scorers, only one player made it to 500 runs. And it certainly wasn’t someone that we’d have expected to be at the top of the tree: Leicestershire’s Australian import Andrew McDonald. A ‘bits and pieces’ player who has never played ODI cricket, he also picked up 12 wickets as unfashionable Leicestershire strolled into the last eight with just two losses.

Andrew McDonald: ginger

Behind McDonald were a few players who made more than 450 runs: Martin Guptill, Stephen Moore, Adam Voges (who hit only two sixes in his 470 runs), Alex Hales and Marcus Trescothick. Perhaps only the last of these would have been expected, continuing a fine personal season for Trescothick. His strike rate of 170 runs per 100 balls was unmatched by any other serious batsman (although beaten by the unlikely figure of Matthew Hoggard, who made 10* from the only two balls he faced).

We consider the idea of the six-hitters league to be a bit vulgar but credit to the two men who topped it with 21: Kevin O’Brien, who continued to enhance his reputation as a genuinely fine limited overs player, and Darren Stevens, the T20 competition’s all-time top scorer.

In wicket-taking terms it was again some unfashionable names who did the real damage. Tim Phillips of Essex took 26 wickets with his slow left arm orthodox, ahead of Harry Gurney, Darren Pattinson and the impressive Tim Southee. The last of these is a 51allout favourite (we have a soft spot for all things New Zealand) and made an impression with both bat (making 74 from 34 balls opening the innings against Hampshire) and ball.

Tim Southee: not ginger

One thing that distinguishes domestic T20 from the IPL and Big Bash is the (relative) lack of emphasis on big names. There’s no Gayle, no Tendulkar or Sehwag and no Steve Smith. Of the bigger names, both Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal made a big impact in their shortened stays, while the likes of Dirk Nannes, Shakib Al Hasan and Wahab Riaz all did pretty decent jobs. Kieron Pollard was another who came in and did what was expected of him (but arguably little more).

It’s an ethos that actually serves domestic T20 very well. The counties simply don’t have the money to pay for the likes of Gayle. By focusing on their existing players, with the occasional addition from overseas, and reducing the number of games (from next year) there’s every possibility that T20 can continue to attract substantial crowds, while continuing to allow some of the so-called ‘lesser-known’ names to make their mark.

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