County cricket

Homegrown champs and Middlesex's foreign influence

The second of our four-part series of statistical analysis on the 2012 County Championship

David Hopps and Neville Scott

November 6, 2012

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Warwickshire pose with the County Championship trophy, Worcestershire v Warwickshire, County Championship, Division One, New Road, 3rd day, September 6, 2012
The majority of Warwickshire's players learnt their cricket in England © PA Photos
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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.

Championship imports
County O/S Others %
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.

Percentage runs/wickets by foreign players
  Official overseas Others Total
  %run %wkt %run %wkt %run %wkt
Division One            
Warwickshire 3.22 20.08 12.46 0.79 15.68 20.87
Somerset 1.72 19.61 34.88 30.98 36.60 50.59
Middlesex 16.28 0.00 45.98 17.05 62.25 17.05
Sussex 6.13 24.57 26.62 18.53 32.75 43.10
Nottinghamshire 4.84 0.46 27.75 25.46 32.59 25.93
Durham 0.00 0.00 27.23 22.65 27.23 22.65
Surrey 5.32 13.92 22.12 9.28 27.43 23.20
Lancashire 18.59 0.00 6.90 0.00 25.49 0.00
Worcestershire 16.92 0.00 11.57 0.97 28.49 0.97
Division Two            
Derbyshire 16.91 0.00 19.07 17.80 35.98 17.80
Yorkshire 0.49 3.78 24.76 0.00 24.76 3.78
Kent 14.56 1.91 11.64 0.95 26.21 2.86
Hampshire 12.04 0.88 19.77 14.54 31.80 15.42
Essex 5.44 6.40 10.62 15.27 16.05 21.67
Glamorgan 11.23 9.45 26.79 18.91 38.02 28.86
Leicestershire 14.90 0.00 8.73 30.17 23.63 30.17
Northamptonshire 0.30 3.33 17.07 20.56 17.37 23.89
Gloucestershire 10.87 6.28 17.01 14.66 27.89 20.94

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (November 9, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

Sounds like the usual 'lets have a pop at Middlesex' always goes down well. As regards Warwickshire. I can remember knocking them out of the B and H semi in 1975 when they fielded 5 overseas players. What goes around comes around. As regards the current Warwick squad. Only 7 can be decribed as local out of 25. So about 30%. Of the Surrey contingent, 6 are local, and one of those Spriegel has moved to Northants. Commonsense says that the London area will attract more movement peoplewise than distant shires.

Posted by bobmartin on (November 7, 2012, 11:53 GMT)

Statistics are just numbers and unless there is a some sort of conclusion to be drawn from them, they mean nothing... As others have already pointed out, there are anomalies in the categories, which make the whole article simply a mathematical exercise which proves nothing.

Posted by JeffG on (November 6, 2012, 16:49 GMT)

@Pelham_Barton - you are, of course, correct and I was originally intending to write that but I ran out of characters and so, rather than splitting my comment over 2 posts, I simply lumped all the overseas born & raised players together. Incidently, I wonder what % of the England teams runs in the last few years have been scored by players considered "foreign" by the defintion in this article?

Posted by InsideHedge on (November 6, 2012, 15:01 GMT)

The 2nd table again confirms the importance of taking wickets in FC cricket, ie the need to take 20 wickets. Those counties that invested money in overseas bowlers did much better.

Posted by Pelham_Barton on (November 6, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

@JeffG: In your final remark, I am glad you said "more accurate". More accurate still would be to say "truly foreign players scored 24% of their runs, England qualified players born overseas scored 26% of their runs, and an England qualified player born in England but growing up overseas scored 12% of their runs". Dawid Malan was born in Roehampton in Surrey. Of course, Sam Robson was born in Paddington, but that is the Paddington in Sydney, Australia.

Posted by InsideHedge on (November 6, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

Back to Warwickshire, Will Porterfield and Boyd Rankin aren't counted as overseas but Porterfield is the Ireland captain, he's not qualified to play for England. Rankin is an odd case since he switched allegiance towards the end of the season - to England. Rather than studying "overseas", I think it's more important to study each county's roster to see how many players are qualified to play international cricket for England. Another criteria is to look at how see England as their permanent home :)

Posted by InsideHedge on (November 6, 2012, 14:36 GMT)

Warwickshire's percentage would have been higher BUT Jeetan Patel had to leave towards the end of the season for NZ's Test Tour of India (in late Aug/early Set), he returned for the title-clinching game against Worcs at New Road but didn't play.

I suppose there are similar stories at other counties too but apart from Middx and Sussex's high numbers, all the other counties have similar percentages, averaging around low 20s. That's a fair number.

Posted by JeffG on (November 6, 2012, 13:25 GMT)

I think that some perspective needs to be put on the "Middx Foreign Legion" slant in this article. Of the 8 players listed as "Others", Eoin Morgan is actually an England player, Dawid Malan and Neil Dexter are England qualified, Steven Crook has a UK passport so presumably could play for England and Sam Robson is currently serving his qualification period for England (due in 2014) I thought that the big issue was counties fielding players who can't play for England? So, if these "foreign" players can (and in some cases do) play for England, what is the problem here? If it's the fact that they weren't "local" Middx people, then what's the difference between Middx signing an England qualified player born in SA and them signing a player born in Lancashire? When the article states "…foreign players…scored more than 62% of their runs" a more accurate statement would be "truly foreign players scored 24% of their runs and England qualified players born overseas scored 38% of their runs"

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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