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Andrew McGlashan reviews the county season
September 26, 2005
With the English season now over, the nights drawing in and thoughts turning to the challenges facing England this winter, Andrew McGlashan assesses each of the counties' performances this season. Who has surprised and who has disappointed? Below are counties D-L. Click here for M-Y
Durham Championship - Promoted 2nd in Div Two; National League - Promoted 2nd in Div Two; C&G Trophy - 1st Rd; Twenty20 - 5th in North Group
After years struggling at the bottom of the county table, Durham had their best season since joining first-class cricket in 1992. Martyn Moxon was rewarded for some shrewd signings, including both overseas and Kolpak players, as Durham gained promotion in both forms of the game. Mike Hussey, Dale Benkenstein and Paul Collingwood formed a strong batting triplet - but it was the form of Liam Plunkett and Mark Davies which heartened supporters the most. With Steve Harmison absent on England duty, the two young bowlers led the bowling attack with great success. There is enough talent at Chester-le-Street to suggest that their rise to the first division won't just be a fleeting visit.
Player of the season Dale Benkenstein - runs, wickets, catches and stand-in captain.
Derbyshire Championship - 9th in Div One; National League - 5th in Div Two; C&G Trophy - 2nd Rd; Twenty20 - Quarter-finals
Although their bottom-placed position suggests little progress has been made, there have been some promising signs coming out of Derby. They managed to register their first Championship win for 14 months in the last match of the season, but it was the one-day game which showed the most significant improvements. Narrowly missing out on promotion in the National League, as well as reaching the quarter-finals in the Twenty20 competition, gave hope for a brighter future.
Player of the season Graeme Welch - Bowled endless overs, and scored useful runs
Essex Championship - 5th in Div Two; National League - Winners Div One; C&G Trophy - Quarter Final; Twenty20 - 5th in South Group
It was a progressive season for Ronnie Irani's team, who were head and shoulders above the competition in the National League. Their one-day attack was well led by Darren Gough and they used their spinners to good effect. With Alastair Cook and Ravinder Bopara maturing rapidly, the batting quickly became settled; Andy Flower was a constant run machine, averaging over 65 in the Championship. Danish Kaneria, the legspinner, bowled nearly 400 overs in seven Championship matches but his wickets cost 33 runs apiece.
Player of the season Alastair Cook - made the step up from promising youngster to leading batsman.
Glamorgan Championship - Relegated 9th in Div One; National League - 4th in Div One; C&G Trophy - 2nd Rd; Twenty20 - 6th in Mid/West/Wales Group
Their season never got going, especially in the Championship where they registered just a single victory. Their decision to sign only one overseas player backfired when Matthew Elliott left with a knee injury; his replacement Sourav Ganguly then returned to India. When the squad was further depleted by injuries, the writing was on the wall. But the arrival of some promising youngsters brightened their season, admit the poor results. Robert Croft never gave less than 100% and showed his commitment by signing an extended contract. In the days of quick-fix Kolpak and overseas stars, Glamorgan's approach to home grown talent has to be admired - but it left them seriously exposed over a long season.
Player of the season David Hemp - the shining light in a weak batting order
Gloucestershire Championship - Relegated 8th in Div One; National League - Relegated 7th in Div One; C&G Trophy - 2nd Rd; Twenty20 - 4th in Mid/West/Wales Group
It was a forgetful season at Bristol and there isn't much light at the end of the tunnel. When Ramnaresh Sarwan manages to average only 31 in a season, it highlights the problems that exist. No one got close to 1000 runs - although Craig Spearman had mitigated circumstances after a season of personal issues. The bowling attack lacked the firepower to dismiss opposition teams cheaply. Jon Lewis worked hard but his injury - and the relatively meagre return of Upul Chandana - left Chris Taylor with few options. The one-day trophies have also dried up, leaving supporters thinking long and hard about where the club is heading.
Player of the season Stephen Adshead - solid behind and in front of the stumps.
Hampshire Championship - 2nd in Div One; National League - Relegated 9th in Div One; C&G Trophy - Winners; Twenty20 - 4th in South Group
The Warne factor was everywhere at the Rose Bowl. He launched Hampshire's season while his countrymen were busy with the one-day matches against England, and his adventurous captaincy conjured victories from nowhere. When he departed on Test duty, his legacy was clearly visible around the team; they played with a confidence and conviction not often seen in county cricket. They were helped by Shane Watson and Andy Bichel who were ideal locum overseas players. Though they couldn't quite take the Championship down to the wire, they produced a superb all round performance in the C&G Final; their season ended disappointedly however, when they were relegated in the National League. Hampshire were not afraid to throw the youngsters in: the likes of Kevin Latouf and Jono McLean had their cricketing education put into overdrive by playing with Warne.
Player of the season Nic Pothas - scored the runs of a frontline batsman while keeping consistently to Warne and Shaun Udal.
Kent Championship - 5th in Div One; National League - 8th in Div Two; C&G Trophy - Quarter Final; Twenty20 - 6th in South Group
Chasing the pennant in the penultimate round, then having to be content with fifth place in the Championship at the end. It was that sort of season for Kent - not quite hitting form at the right time. They were unfortunate in having to release Justin Kemp and Andrew Hall before the end of the season when they were still in the Championship race. One-day cricket was less successful as they struggled to get any promotion race going in the National League and imploded during the Twenty20. Martin Saggers's injuries and loss of form were a crucial factor, but they have a well balanced team.
Player of the season Robert Key - Kept his name at the forefront of the England selector's thoughts.
Lancashire Championship - Winners in Div Two; National League - 6th in Div One; C&G Trophy - Semi Final; Twenty20 - Finalists
On paper, it appears to have been a reasonably impressive season for Lancashire, but fans and players would have expected more. Their main aim was promotion in the Championship, which they achieved fairly comfortably and also secured the second division title. However, given the all-star squad they have, their cricket should have been more dominant. The semi-final capitulation against Warwickshire left Mark Chilton lost for words - although the fans found a few suitable phrases. They again fell just short in the Twenty20, after carrying all before them in the group stages, and were left to cling onto their National League status on the last day of the season. They snapped up Andrew Symonds, and benefited from having Jimmy Anderson participating all season. However, the development of Sajid Mahmood came a worrying halt.
Player of the season Mal Loye - Comfortably the leading batsman, although for sheer presence Symonds runs him close.
Leicestershire Championship - 7th in Div Two; National League - 4th in Div Two; C&G Trophy - 2nd Rd; Twenty20 - Semi Final
There was no Twenty20 triumph to cling to this summer - they were beaten at their own game by Somerset - and the Championship again proved to be a struggle for them. The bowling attack lacked firepower and the batting didn't build big enough totals to keep the team afloat. Darren Maddy suffered a particularly poor season but there was some encouragement with the emergence of two highly talented young players; Tim New, the wicketkeeper, and Stuart Broad, the quick bowler who has earned a place at the National Academy.
Player of the season Darren Robinson - Held a flimsy top order together.
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of CricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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Plays of the day from the fourth ODI between Australia and South Africa at the MCG