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

The County Championship: Division Two – Top of the Class

Posted on October 4, 2011 by in First Class


County Championship: 1st (Division One)

CB40: 2nd (Group A)

Twenty20: 9th (South Group)

Mission accomplished. This was Middlesex’s fifth consecutive season in division two and a county with their resources and heritage will be glad to be back amidst the top nine sides next year. Their success (eight wins and only two losses) can be attributed quite simply to solid run-scoring and fine swing bowling. In tallying more than 1,300 runs at an average of 54.29, Chris Rogers had a splendid season as overseas player, reminiscent of county cricket in the late 90s and early 00s when a host of Australians who couldn’t get an international appearance would torment English county attacks. Sam Robson, another Australian but one with a British passport, had a breakthrough season, averaging 53.11 and almost reaching the 1,000 run mark.

However the star of the season has to be Tim ‘Dial M for’ Murtagh. Destined to be included in the ‘good but not quite good enough for England’ bracket, the swing bowler pocketed 85 scalps in 2011, at the rather brilliant average of 20.87. When available Steve Finn was as excellent as ever, and Gareth Berg, Toby Roland-Jones and Corey Collymore all averaged under 30.00: a fine group of bowlers at this level indeed, even if they may have been helped massively by the use of the Tiflex ball in this division.

Tim 'Diagnosis' Murtagh enjoyed a splendid season with the ball

The story of Middlesex’s limited overs season can be glossed over due to their first-class success, even if they did finish second in their CB40 group. In the T20 tournament, they were an abomination, winning only two matches. They may wish to perform better next year and aim to reach at least the knock-out stages of one of the cups, but one suspects avoiding an immediate return to the division two wasteland will be their priority. If Tim ‘Meat is’ Murtagh can somehow continue this year’s form (against better batsmen with the less helpful Dukes ball) and if Finn can be overlooked by England, they will stand a chance.

In terms of their playing staff, Ben Scott is heading to Worcestershire, but with young John Simpson leading the list of first-class dismissals this season, he won’t be missed on the field. Also, Dan Housego has been released, presumably to go back to his taxi driving career.

And finally, a few words for Andrew Strauss. Absent from the county for long periods, he rectified one of the oddest statistics in cricket (i.e. that his highest first-class score was lower than Graeme Swann’s) and plundered 241* against Leicestershire at the end of August. Whatever highs he encounters with England, it was a reminder that Middlesex still consider him one of their own.


County Championship: 2nd
CB40: Winners; 1st (Group B)
T20: 5th (South Group)

This was a ruddy fine year for Surrey. There was of course the victory in the CB40, the season-long success built on a bedrock of runs from Jason Roy and Tom Maynard as well as cheap wickets from Jade Dernbach. It was Dernbach who won player of the match in the final, taking 4-30, and Rory Hamilton-Brown’s captaincy deserves a modicum of credit.

It was also a successful year in first-class cricket, as the county won their final four matches to overtake Northamptonshire in the final weeks of the season to take second place and promotion to divison one. Only a cynic would point out they were runner-up to their neighbours from north of the Thames and that they have a collection of very handy imported players at their disposal. The bowling was led by Tim Linley (73 wickets at 18.34) and Stuart Meaker (44 at 22.56), the latter rewarded with a call-up to the England one day squad. However it was the batting which probably won them promotion, with Zander be Bruyn, Hamilton-Brown, Steve Davies and Maynard all scoring 1,000 runs.

Jade Dernbach won man of the match in the CB40 final

In the T20 tournament, the team were inconsistent, but will be dissatisfied with missing out on the quarter-finals. Nonetheless, a promotion and a trophy constitute a truly memorable year for Surrey.

A look at their squad shows several players who should be good enough for division one, particularly as their bowling attack has been improved with the acquisition of Jon Lewis from Gloucestershire. No doubt the regular spectators at the Oval will hope that Chris Tremlett can remain fit but also be kept out of the England side.

Therefore after several seasons of disappointment, there is once again silverware in the Oval trophy cabinet and furthermore a good feeling is blowing in the Kennington wind.



County Championship – 3rd
Pro40 – 3rd (Group B)
T20 – 9th (North Group)

If we were to hand out awards based on a county’s ability to sign a Kolpak player, or eye for a past-it South African, Northants’ trophy cabinet would be full to bursting. Unfortunately, and to our eternal regret, the ECB have not yet entrusted us with organising the end of season ceremony, so they’ll have to go empty-handed for another year.

In truth, discounting a shambolic T20 campaign Northamptonshire had a surprisingly successful season, and came within a point of making it into Division One. Had they done so, it would have been a remarkable achievement, given that their squad on paper looks like it might struggle to win the Under 12’s County Cup. Losing just two games all season (joint lowest in the division with table toppers Middlesex) is not to be sniffed at but ultimately they drew too often, their total of seven also being the highest in the division.

Andrew Hall had another fine season for Northamptonshire

The Steelbacks’ planning for 2012 has already begun in earnest; England Ace Mal Loye, famous for being part of England’s battering of Australia four years ago, has been released while former South African international (surprise, surprise) Andrew Hall has had his contract extended for another two years. It would be nice if Loye’s replacement came from within their youth setup, as Papua New Guinea has contributed more to the England team than Northants in recent years. Either way, they will be looking to build on this year’s first class performance and really challenge for promotion next season.

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