Edmund James Holden Eckersley
August 09, 1989, Oxford
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Ned Eckersley left Leicestershire's awards night in 2013 laden with trophies. He won six, including being named Leicestershire's Cricketer of the Year, as well as collecting the Player of the Year honour from both supporters and players alike. Other awards piled up for batting and fielding, the latter illustrating that his keeping had also come on leaps and bounds.
The final award put things in context, however. That was for the outstanding performance of the season: an innings of 147 against Essex at Chelmsford. Leicestershire went on to lose the match by an innings and did not win a Championship game all season as they finished rooted to the foot of Division Two. Eckersley was one of the few bright spots, amassing 1302 first-class runs at an average of over 50 as well as making useful one-day contributions.
He registered five centuries in all competitions, including two in the same game against Worcestershire. He also made a maiden List A hundred against Yorkshire. By 2015, Eckersley was vice captain and had become a key figure, but a third successive wooden spoon in the Championship, and his own faltering runs tally, told that progress would not be easy. Indeed, one of his tasks as a stand-in captain was to apologise publicly for an abject one-day display against Somerset.
Eckersley, a wicketkeeper-batsman and a former member of the MCC Groundstaff, joined Leicestershire in pre-season in 2011 and immediately made an impression in 2nd XI cricket. In August of that year, shortly after his 22nd birthday, he was promoted to Leicestershire's Championship side for the last four matches of the summer and continued the upward curve, making a century against Middlesex at Grace Road in his seventh innings. He then spent part of the close season playing for Mountaineers in Zimbabwe.
Back in England in 2012, he made more progress. He demonstrated versatility at the crease, batting for more than six-and-a half hours for 137 not out against Glamorgan in Cardiff, during a match-saving stand; yet on another occasion, he struck 72 from 44 balls to help Leicestershire beat Worcestershire in a 40-over match.
In 2016, Eckersley became just the third man to make three centuries in successive matches for Leicestershire, following Ben Smith in 2001 and Charles Dempster before the Second World War. But the following two years were a let-down: even a career-best 158 against Derbyshire came out of a Leicestershire total of 600-plus on a Derby pitch that flattered batsmen on both sides. He was released by Leicestershire at the end of the 2018 season, but won a contract at Durham the following summer, averaging 40.00 in the Championship and even taking on the captaincy after Cameron Bancroft's Ashes call-up.
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