Homegrown champs and Middlesex's foreign influence
Ashley Giles' success in coaching Warwickshire to the Championship title was all the more noteworthy because the county had the lowest reliance upon cricketers who had learned their cricket overseas.
The revelation comes in the second part of Neville Scott's statistical analysis of the 2012 County Championship season, undertaken exclusively for ESPNcricinfo.
Before the 18 first-class counties shred their close-season lists of potential overseas signings, it should be pointed out that Warwickshire's record of fielding only 17% of players whose formative cricketing experience was overseas is equalled by Lancashire - and they were relegated after winning the Championship the previous year.
Nevertheless, the impression that Warwickshire are a squad with a strong sense of tradition and togetherness is amplified by the data provided by Scott, a freelance cricket writer and keen analyst of the county game.
The shock unearthed by Scott's study concerns Middlesex, who over the course of the 2012 season fielded a staggering 52% of players who had not learned their cricket in England - nearly 20% more than any other county.
As tenants at Lord's, Middlesex play in an atmosphere parading English cricketing tradition yet their modern-day failure to produce their own players - a concern that their managing director of cricket, Angus Fraser, is bent on addressing - suggests there is a growing difficulty producing cricketers in London as grounds disappear and other interests take hold. Perhaps also the study reflects the nature of London life.
But Fraser is also proud of the number of England players his county has produced in the time he has been with the county, first as a player and then as director of cricket. Many of those players who this survey shows did not have their formative cricketing education in England go on to qualify for - and represent - England.
|1 Warwickshire||13 (1)||17 (3)||17.05|
|2 Somerset||8.5 (2)||47 (5)||31.53|
|3 Middlesex||16 (1)||76 (8)||52.27|
|4 Sussex||15 (1)||44 (5)||33.52|
|5 Nottinghamshire||9 (1)||38 (3)||26.70|
|6 Durham||0 (0)||46.5 (7)||28.18|
|7 Surrey||12 (2)||26 (3)||23.03|
|8 Lancashire||15 (1)||15 (2)||17.05|
|9 Worcestershire||15 (2)||17 (2)||18.18|
|10 Derbyshire||15 (2)||31 (3)||26.14|
|11 Yorkshire||2 (1)||34 (3)||20.45|
|12 Kent||16 (1)||17 (2)||18.75|
|13 Hampshire||15 (1)||29 (4)||25.00|
|14 Essex||12 (2)||24 (3)||20.45|
|15 Glamorgan||13 (2)||27 (2)||24.24|
|16 Leicestershire||14 (1)||29 (4)||24.43|
|17 Northamptonshire||6 (1)||27 (3)||18.75|
|18 Gloucestershire||11 (3)||25 (3)||21.82|
O/S = official overseas players; Others = those whose formative cricket education (pre-16) was abroad. Table shows number of such players, in brackets, and their combined appearances. % = Percentage of total appearances by all imports. 0.5 = International players, and their replacements, involved in only part of a match. In all, 25 official overseas players and 65 others made 24.87% of appearances.
Middlesex's reliance upon imported talent is abundantly clear. Although foreign players were responsible for only 17% of their wickets, they scored more than 62% of their runs, with the Australian duo of Chris Rogers and Sam Robson leading the way. When it comes to cricketers produced outside of England taking wickets, Somerset are most reliant on imports, who were responsible for nearly 51% of their bowling successes.
A total reliance on homegrown bowlers was not a route to success in 2012. Lancashire were scrupulously English, Worcestershire almost as much; both were relegated.
For much of first-class cricket's history, Yorkshire's policy of fielding only players born within the county boundary gave them bragging rights when it came to the topic of homegrown players and the county still provides more professionals throughout the 18 first-class clubs than any other.
That Yorkshire-only policy ended when Michael Vaughan, born in Lancashire but whose cricketing education was in Sheffield, signed an Academy contract for £80 a week in 1991. Sachin Tendulkar, then a 19-year-old Indian prodigy, soon followed as Yorkshire's first overseas player as the county changed tack to reverse years of decline.
As Yorkshire were promoted, at the first attempt, from Championship Division Two in 2012, the percentage of players whose formative cricketing education was outside the country was more than 20% - with five counties fielding a greater proportion of English-developed players. One of them, strikingly, was Northamptonshire, who belied their reputation as a repository for overseas players.
Official = designated overseas players; Others = players whose cricket education (pre-16) was abroad; % = percentage of a county's runs from the bat and of wickets by bowlers supplied by such imports.
Tomorrow: In the third of Neville Scott's four studies of the county season, ESPNcricinfo reveals why the adage of "win the toss and bat" was not the way to succeed in 2012; and we also reveal the county that possessed the least-successful bowling attack in the land.
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo