The ECB may have introduced financial incentives to encourage the participation of more young cricketers in the county game, but several of the old sweats have had seasons to savour.
Paul Nixon, Leicestershire’s 40-year-old wicketkeeper, has enjoyed an annus mirabilis in the Twenty20 Cup, whilst veteran spinners Claude Henderson and Robert Croft each featured at the top of the economy rate listings in the same competition.
Meanwhile, in the LV=County Championship, 33-year-old David Masters and 36-year-old Alan Richardson were among the top four bowlers in the four-day competition. For Masters, 2011 has been a memorable summer with the Essex seamer claiming 93 first-class wickets to be the country’s leading wicket-taker.
Before this season, Masters had only taken more than 50 wickets once in his eleven-year career, and that was last summer when he claimed 53 first-class scalps at 23 runs apiece.
He has more than surpassed that this year with his 93 wickets costing a mere 18 runs each, while he recorded eight ‘five-fors’, more than the number he had taken in the past four summers combined. Add to this his 13 wickets in the various one-day games this summer, and his overall haul for the year stands at 106.
As the list below shows, Masters’ tally in first-class cricket is also the highest in the County Championship since 2006 when Mushtaq Ahmed took 102 to help spin Sussex to the county title. But there were no actual honours for Masters to enjoy as Essex ended in seventh place in Division Two, or 16th overall.
As far as the bowlers in the top flight were concerned in 2011, it was Richardson who ended as the most successful bowler, taking 73 wickets at 24 runs apiece – the third time he had passed the 50-wicket mark in his career in county cricket which has also seen him perform with credit for Derbyshire, Warwickshire and Middlesex before joining Worcestershire. After his sterling efforts in Division One this summer, he can be justifiably called the “renaissance man” of the county game!
Most wickets in the County Championship:
2011 93 David Masters
2010 68 Andre Adams
2009 75 Danish Kaneria
2008 67 James Tomlinson
2007 90 Mushtaq Ahmed
2006 102 Mushtaq Ahmed