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Sam Collins: Championship review 2009, the seamers

September 30th, 2009 by Sam Collins in County cricket, England

It’s been a long old summer for the seamers. In particular spare a thought for David Masters, who slogged through 557.2 overs, or at least 3,444 balls for his 45 wickets, more overs than anyone else in the country. In all eight seamers topped 50 wickets, none bettering Steve Kirby’s haul of 64, although Graham Onions would surely have done so had international appearances not limited him to seven games. But what else do the end of season averages reveal?

The stand-out

2nd Graham Onions (Durham) – 45 wickets @15.28. Like Jonathan Trott his exceptional domestic form made it impossible for the selectors to ignore. Made an impact against West Indies, was overlooked for the first Test against Australia but kept taking wickets for Durham to force his way back in. The decisive summer of his career.

The county stalwarts

6th Jon Lewis (Gloucs) – 57 wickets @20.1.
7th David Lucas (Northants) – 58 wickets @21.1.
8th Steve Kirby (Gloucs) 64 wickets @22.18.

Three bowlers into their thirties with one Test between them and little hope of adding to it. Yet their consistency and durability (Kirby played every game, Lewis and Lucas 15), is something for the younger England hopefuls to aspire to. Kirby took more wickets than anyone else, and is far more than a shock of red hair and a fiery temper, yet his chances of an Test call appear gone at 31.  At almost 29 time is running out for Tim Murtagh if he is to avoid a similar fate, despite a second successive season over 60 wickets (21st, 60 @25.35).

The England hopefuls

10th Steve Harmison (Durham) – 51 wickets @22.62. Barged his way back into the England team with another productive domestic summer yet remained strangely wayward for a man with 400 overs under his belt.

17th Ryan Sidebottom (Notts) – 31 wickets @24.51. Another man reliant on good Championship performances to nudge the selectors. Sidebottom did well for Nottinghamshire, got back for the ODIs, yet still looked short of the pace of two years ago.

19th Liam Plunkett  (Durham) – 49 wickets @24.83.  A comeback season for Plunkett after taking only 16 wickets in 2008. He also impressed with the bat (400 runs @44.44) as a mainstay of the second half of Durham’s title-winning season. Still only 24 he can take further inspiration from James Anderson’s international rebirth.

Must do better

38th Saj Mahmood (Lancashire) – 38 wickets @29.42. A nothing sort of season for Mahmood. Played a decent amount of games (11) and took a reasonable number of wickets at a presentable average without ever suggesting that he can fulfil Rod Marsh’s predictions and lead England’s attack. At 27 there is still time but unfavourable comparisons with his county team-mate Anderson, who has taken 23 wickets in his three Championship matches over the last two seasons, are unavoidable.

55th Amjad Khan (Kent) – 36 wickets @31.83. Khan failed to impress on his Test debut against West Indies in April and has fallen away further after an unremarkable domestic season. His skiddy pace is his main asset but he took just one five-wicket haul in the Championship in his first full season back from a serious knee injury. Admittedly 26 wickets in his last 10 innings hinted at a return to form.  His team-mate Robbie Joseph managed only four games this season.

87th Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire) – 24 wickets @37.87. Bresnan is another to make his Test debut in 2009 and then struggle domestically. Rated by the England set-up due to his solid action and pugnacious lower-order batting, the suspicion remains that he is not incisive enough to succeed at the highest level although he remains part of England’s ODI plans.

96th James Tomlinson (Hampshire) – 30 wickets @39.76. The surprise leading wicket-taker in 2008 lost his way this season as Hampshire struggled.

97th Chris Tremlett (Hampshire) – 14 wickets @40.28.  So impressive against India in 2007, Tremlett has been surprisingly snubbed since although his domestic record has hardly presented a compelling case.
Tremlett aired his grievances at the start of the season, telling TWC, “I don’t think I did much wrong when I played Test cricket. Unfortunately you don’t hear too much from the selectors when you’re out of the set-up. I don’t know if that’s my fault. It’s disappointing we don’t get more communication from the ECB”.
Has the attributes to be a real force but needs to focus on taking wickets rather than offence.

140th Darren Pattinson (Notts) – 10 wickets @87.2. Right at the bottom of the pile, is the Australian so controversially selected for England last summer. We cannot know the full effects of the media backlash that followed but his second season in Nottingham proved a forgettable one.

The young ones

44th Steven Finn (Middx) – 53 wickets @30.64. A very tall man with a real future. Got through 418 overs and although Middlesex were miserable the learning experience will be invaluable. Only five seamers took more wickets. Nick Knight wrote last summer, “I do not want to see him rushed into an England shirt. He has a lot in his favour technically. With such a tall frame he is delivering from over 7ft and naturally gets a lot of bounce into his action - a great fear for any batsman.

“The interesting thing will be to see what happens next. He needs to develop physically and he will, but there will be a lot of pressure on him to up the ante from deliveries at 84-85mph to 90mph and become a strike man like Steve Harmison. On the other hand he may wish to develop in the steady, consistent mould of a Glenn McGrath. I have been very impressed by Finn’s confidence.”

76th James Harris (Glamorgan) – 41 wickets @35.14. “He is not particularly quick - even when he fills out he may not go above 85mph – but batsmen complain he is quicker than they imagined. More importantly, he can swing the ball both ways - a rarity these days - and hits the seam regularly. If the ball is not swinging he is not compromised. Comparisons with the upright, economical action of a young Shaun Pollock are not fanciful.”
So wrote Steve James after Harris impressed on his debut season as a 17-year-old in 2007. Still only 19 he has continued to progress given responsibility at Glamorgan – he also bowled over 400 overs this season. 256 runs @19.69 suggest a decent batsman as well.

81st Chris Woakes (Warwickshire) – 37 wickets @36.59. A swing bowler with an impressive temperament, Woakes hasn’t quite lived up to the early-season hype after six wickets for the Lions against West Indies but has an influential fan in Ashley Giles. Played every game this season and scored a maiden first class ton against Hampshire among 480 runs.

Sam Collins is website editor of

Tomorrow – the spinners

Posted in County cricket, England |

One Response to “Sam Collins: Championship review 2009, the seamers”

  1.   queenslander says:

    considering warwickshire’s flat as a tack woakes probably has done reasonably well. Speaking of which it’s no wonder Ian Bell struggles at test level after playing all his career on that featherbed against your county trundlers (Durham excepted)

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