C365's County end-of-season awards

Blog Opinion

After an exciting County season, albeit overshadowed by visits from Australia and a bunch of ODI sides, we look back over the action and dish out awards to those who captured the imagination of Blighty's cricket fans.

After an exciting County season, albeit overshadowed by visits from Australia and a bunch of ODI sides, we look back over the action and dish out awards to those who captured the imagination of Blighty's cricket fans.

<b>Batsman of the Year</b>

To reach the landmark of 1,000 Division One runs in a season is, unquestionably, an admirable achievement for a batsman of any stature, but to score that weight runs whilst captaining and holding together a sinking ship is a highly commendable feat.

South African-born Wayne Madsen enjoyed a prolific campaign – the best of his career – with the willow, as he reached the 1000 First-Class run mark for the first time and guided Derbyshire to four Championship victories during their return to the top-tier.

Few would have expected the 29-year-old, who came to England in 2008 to further his career, to be the first to reach the landmark as part of a newly promoted side with little experience. Unfortunately, Madsen's considerable efforts were in vain and runs futile as Karl Krikken's side made an instant return to Division Two.

The right-handed batsman scored three centuries and eight fifties at an average of over 43 as well as nearly four hundred one-day runs – the Derbyshire skipper justifiably earned plenty of plaudits and admirers this season.

Although he couldn't single handily keep his side afloat, Madsen did receive the club's player of the year award as well as the inaugural Christopher Martin-Jenkins Spirit of Cricket Elite Award for the sportsmanship he displayed against Yorkshire in July by walking of his own accord.

<b>Bowler of the Year</b>

Has there been a more consistent performer in County Cricket then Graham Onions? For the fourth consecutive season, the bustling swing bowler has claimed fifty or more Championship wickets, once again underlining his status as one of the country's most potent seamers, no matter the surface.

While his services are surplus to requirements by England, Onions' complete package of fast-bowling skills is an invaluable asset to Durham, for whom he spearheaded a third Championship title in six years with 70 wickets, as well as 14 more in the limited-overs formats.

Onions averaged six wickets a game, including five 5-wicket hauls, and while the likes of Scott Borthwick and Ben Stokes enjoyed equally impressive seasons, it was the 31-year-old's capacity to force the opposition onto the back foot and his side into the ascendancy which proved more often or not to be the difference.

<b>All-rounder of the Year</b>

It's a measure of Moeen Ali's significant value to Worcestershire that a new five-year contract agreed between both parties was arguably the only positive outcome from yet another underwhelming campaign for the New Road outfit.

The 26-year-old's development into a genuine all-rounder who has the ability to adapt to all formats has seen him called-up to the ECB Performance Programme and after two successive seasons of underachievement, he has certainly come of age.

The stylish left-hander was head and shoulders above the rest of his team mates with over 2,000 runs in all formats, which included seven tons as he finished at the summit of the Division Two run charts.

His ability to take the game away from the opposition with the bat and destructive nature had been evident from when he broke onto the scene as a fresh-faced youngster but this season has seen Moeen add another extremely valuable string to his bow – the development of his economical but productive off-spin has etched his name firmly into the all-rounder category.

The Pears are all too aware of their over-reliance on the Birmingham-born player and while his runs, 52 wickets and 26 catches did little to change their fortunes, Steve Rhodes knows his continued presence in the side will always give them a chance.

<b>Coach of the Year</b>

While it would be easy to hand this award to the man behind Durham's unforeseen Championship title, David Ripley's achievements at Northamptonshire have been slightly overlooked.

In his first full season at the helm, the former wicket-keeper batsman masterminded the Steelbacks' first piece of one-day silverware in 21 years, before sealing a glorious year by ending their nine-year Division One exile – it was a campaign beyond even the wildest dreams of the optimists at Wantage Road.

Their achievements are made all the more remarkable by the fact that 12 months prior, the club finished second bottom of Division Two and hardly won a game of white ball cricket – across the three competitions, no side won fewer games.

It's been a quite remarkable turnaround for a club who were the whipping boys not so long ago. While the 47-year-old insists the plaudits must fall at the feet of his players, the change in management, mentality, approach and tactics which Ripley has swiftly introduced has been central to the extraordinary reversal.

The shrewd acquisition of seasoned pros like Matthew Spriegel and Steven Crook is all well and good but it must be ensured that the full potential is extracted from the aforementioned industrious but effective 'journeymen'.

Every player has been given the freedom to express themselves and have been trusted to perform in Ripley's style of man-management – it's such faith which has seen the likes of Kyle Coetzer and captain Alex Wakely, who were perennial underperformers, to thrive with new-found confidence.

<b>Young Player of the Year</b>

If David Ripley was a major factor in Northants' resurgence then David Willey's contributions to their success was astronomical. The 23-year-old's performance with both bat and ball was one of the main reasons for the county's strong showing in all three competitions.

He may be remembered for an outstanding performance on Twenty20 finals day during which he almost single handily secured the Steelbacks' first silverware in 13 years.

A 19-ball fifty was followed by an inspired performance in the field which saw the left-armer run-out Steven Davies from long-on before clinching victory with an incredible hat-trick.

However, there was a lot more to a season than just a bludgeoning half-century and three successive wickets at Edgbaston. Willey, who scored a fifty on debut in 2009, took a while to find his feet in the first team but has matured as a player and developed his game to become the county's trump card.

The Northampton-born youngster was integral in spearheading Northants' one-day success, ending the Twenty20 tournament second highest wicket taker, but also played a starring role in the longer format as promotion to Division One was secured.

Three Championship half-centuries and a quite brilliant 167 in the Yorkshire Bank 40 against Warwickshire in 2013 underlined his development into a genuine all-rounder.

A call-up to the England Lions followed and after committing himself to the county which oversaw his progress through the youth