England domestic season 2007 review September 25, 2007

Thrilling in the rain

Andrew McGlashan reviews England's 2007 domestic season



Phil Mustard became the fourth Durham player to earn an England call-up © Getty Images

Team of the year: Durham
A coming-of-age season for Durham who won the Friends Provident Trophy in convincing style against Hampshire, topped Division Two of the Pro40 and, for a short while during the final round of the Championship, sat top of the table and dreamt of the title. Geoff Cook, who took over as coach from Martyn Moxon, has built a strong squad with a mixture of seasoned professionals, Kolpak signings and, best of all, talented young English players. Phil Mustard, the wicketkeeper, became the fourth Durham player to earn an England call-up when he joined the squad in Sri Lanka. This year will be a landmark in Durham's history books, but it should only be the start of an exciting era in the North East.

Batsman of the year: Mark Ramprakash
It's a predictable choice, but Ramprakash continues to tower head and shoulders above other county batsmen. Back where his talent belongs, in Division One, his hunger for runs remains undiminished. Despite a rain-interrupted season, he still ended with 2026 at 101.03 in the Championship alone, the first time a batsman has passed both marks in consecutive seasons.

Bowler of the year: Ottis Gibson
It was a good season for the more senior players as the likes of Ramprakash, Darren Gough and Andy Caddick also excelled, but Gibson's tale takes some beating. In July he became the first Durham bowler to take all ten wickets in an innings, against Hampshire at Chester-le-Street, and then went on to rip through teams in the Championship to finish with 80 wickets at 20. If that wasn't enough he was Man of the Match in the Friends Provident final against Hampshire after striking in the first two balls of the run-chase and later adding the prized scalp of Kevin Pietersen. He will be working as a bowling coach with England over the winter. Are his bowling boots handy?

Mushtaq Ahmed gets an honourable mention - 90 wickets and, for the fifth time in a row, the country's leading wicket-taker.



Ripening with age: Ottis Gibson enjoyed a prolific season © Getty Images

Turnaround of the year: Somerset
Justin Langer has worked wonders at Taunton after the club finished bottom of the Championship last year. Now promoted as champions, and comfortably at that, there is a feeling that the barren years may be over.

"We've had a very good in leader in Justin Langer and we've also had the benefit of Marcus Trescothick, so we've been able to put the runs on the board," said Caddick. "And we've been able to bowl the opposition out with the bowling attack we've got. We knew what we wanted to do and we've achieved it very easily." However, the challenge now is to stay in the top flight.

Disappointment: Glamorgan's big names
Another depressing summer for Simon Jones, who despite at last managing to get onto the playing field didn't last very long at any one moment. One wicket in four Championship matches was scant reward as England's Ashes attack continued to disintegrate. Jones seems set to leave Glamorgan and his future remains bleak.

In what was a wretched year for Welsh cricket, Jimmy Maher proved a rarity - an Australian who didn't perform. In eight Championship matches he scored one fifty and averaged a dismal 16.80. His limited-overs record was, if anything, worse.

Fall-out: Warwickshire and Mark Greatbach
Signs were not good early when Heath Streak stepped aside as captain to be replaced by Darren Maddy. But results remained promising until the rot set-in mid-season and they never recovered. After briefly being top of the Championship in May, they made a steady dive southwards and were relegated during their final match against Lancashire. A few days later Greatbach, who hadn't enjoyed overwhelming support for some time, was released from his contract to be replaced by Ashley Giles.

A notable mention, too, for Nayan Doshi's hasty departure from Surrey after he got in a huff over a lack of opportunity. He didn't play another first-team game for anyone during the season after his registration with Warwickshire was blocked.



A close-run thing, right til the end © Getty Images

Highlight: A tight Championship race
The destination of the trophy was decided by the final stroke in the final session of the final match when Dominic Cork was bowled with Lancashire 24 runs short in what would have been a heroic and record run-chase at The Oval, handing the title to Sussex.

The season entered its final week with five teams having a mathematical chance of the title in the closest and most hotly contested race for many years. The best of the talent is slowly being condensed towards the top, which is what the two-divisions system was designed to do, and it has produced some hard-fought matches and an epic finish.

Lowlight: Rain and the ramifications
No one expects a British summer to be wall-to-wall sunshine, but the weather in 2007 was extreme and made a significant impact on the cricket season. The main casualty was Worcestershire: New Road was flooded twice in a matter of weeks, but the knock-on effect of some short-sightedness from the club meant Kent were also dragged into the equation after being denied the chance to play a Championship match. Fortunately Kent battled to safety, otherwise the fight for extra points could have ended in court.

Quotes
"Are you telling me that this is the best Warwickshire can produce? I don't think so."
Nasser Hussain takes a swipe at Warwickshire's use of imports

"We've now got an outdoor swimming pool - 50 metres or so? It's probably the biggest swimming pool in England."
Phil Jaques shows he didn't lose his sense of humour during the summer floods which hit New Road

"It felt quite weird when we buried it, but it was exciting. I am glad that part of me will be at Sophia Gardens for ever. That is my legacy to the club and it feels right."
Michael Powell talks about burying his rib, which was removed after he suffered a life-threatening blood cot, at Sophia Gardens

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo