Now the championship campaign is over, it’s time to select the team of the season.
As imperious as ever, Trescothick scored 290 more runs than anyone else in either division, despite missing three games to a cruel injury. His dominance is such that it has become a cliché to describe him as batting on a different pitch from everyone else.
Though it wasn’t enough to keep Hampshire in division one, Carberry’s return, after fears his career was over, was astounding. Against Yorkshire, he hit 300*, displaying the range of shots and concentration that earned him an England Test cap only 18 months ago, while his last-day century against Warwickshire denied them the title.
Brought in to average over 50 and lead a side to promotion that finished eighth in division two in the previous two seasons, Rogers made the twin challenges seem positively easy.
There was no third championship in four years for Durham, but Benkenstein’s excellence remained unabated: only Trescothick exceeded his 1353 division one runs. Long established as his side’s crisis man, Benkenstein’s experience as skipper was a valuable aid for Phil Mustard.
Zander de Bruyn
In a Surrey top six that is as gung-ho as they come, de Bruyn provides stickability, and two hundreds and two fifties in the last three games allowed Surrey to claim a remarkable promotion. Somerset fans, not unreasonably, will feel they might just have won the championship had he not been lured to The Oval.
Jonny Bairstow (wicket-keeper)
In an otherwise bleak season for Yorkshire Bairstow’s excellence, culminating in a memorable England ODI debut, provided some solace. Attractive and calm in front of the stumps, he scored his runs at a strike-rate – 69 – that few top-order batsmen can match. With the gloves Bairstow improved but is not yet the equal of his late father.
With one first-class appearance before the season began, bookmakers would have given any odds on Gidman becoming the first man for 15 years to score 1000 championship runs and take 50 wickets. But do that he did; and with a batting average (45) more than double his bowling one (21). A late developer at 26, Gidman deserves England Lions recognition.
Glen Chapple (captain)
It’s not only sentimentality that earns Chapple a place in this side, which his achievement in lifting the pennant without stars ensures he leads. At 37, his canny fast-medium bowling was effective enough to claim 55 wickets at under 20, despite often not being fully fit. Though he was uncharacteristically short of runs, Lancashire would not have won the championship without his 97 in their penultimate game.
Unlucky to never represent England (though he may yet play for Ireland), Murtagh’s best season yet propelled Middlesex to promotion. A round 80 wickets in 15 matches highlight his potency, which is especially great with the new ball, as a three-wicket bust in 16 balls against Derbyshire illustrates.
Lazy cricket writers have spent years describing Masters as a “nagging seamer” and “journeyman”, but he forced them to be rather more imaginative after claiming 93 wickets. Masters’ mastery of the Tiflex ball and constant ability to seam it was never more evident than when he claimed 8/10 against Leicestershire.
The mark of Keedy’s bowling is that his left-arm spin is almost as effective in April as August, while his parsimony (giving away just 2.5 an over) means Lancashire never lost control in the field. His 4-57 from 28 overs in the first innings of the victory at Taunton perfectly encapsulated his qualities.