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norwell scoops pca player of the month award

Gloucestershire seamer Liam Norwell has been voted PCA Player of the Month for April after coming out top in an online poll.

Norwell was shortlisted for the first of the new monthly awards after he finished in the top four in the Professional Cricketers’ Association Most Valuable Player Rankings at the end of the month.

Fans were then given the chance to vote for Norwell, Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens and Yorkshire pair Gary Ballance and Ben Coad through the PCA and Sky Sports app and website.

It proved to be very close with a late surge of votes for Norwell taking him from fourth to first in the poll. Norwell, 25, was presented with his PCA Player of the Month trophy during the Royal London One Day International against Ireland at Bristol, his home ground.

“It’s great to be presented with the award and an honour to be the first PCA Player of the Month,” said Norwell.

“I’m really pleased and pretty surprised by it. I was lagging behind in the vote a little bit at one stage so I think it must have been my friends down in Cornwall and I know my old cricket club Redruth got behind it as it was flying around on social media so thanks to everyone who voted for me.”

The PCA Player of the Month Award rewards Norwell for an outstanding start to the season in both the Specsavers County Championship and Royal London One Day Cup.

Although Gloucestershire were beaten by Kent in their opening championship match, Norwell emerged with 40 PCA MVP points for taking eight wickets in the match and scoring valuable lower order runs in each innings.

In the next match, against Leicestershire at Bristol, Norwell returned match figures of 10 for 99 and collected 40 more MVP points

He ended the month strongly by taking five for 36 in the 50 overs competition win over Middlesex at Lord’s which earned him 32 rankings points.

“Lord’s was the highlight in April for me,” said Norwell.

“Unfortunately I was injured for the final in 2015 when we won the Royal London One-Day Cup so performing well at the home of cricket is something I’ll always remember.

“It was also the last day of the month so it was pretty special to take five wickets and get onto the shortlist for the Player of the Month thanks to that performance. It was just good to get the team win and we had a few lads put their hands up that day and performed really well.

“I’m always happier when my performances lead to a team win and long may that continue.”

Norwell’s best season to date was in 2015 when he took 68 first-class wickets and finished a creditable 36th in the MVP Rankings for the County Championship.

“If anything I’ve done less this season than I have in previous pre-seasons,” Norwell admitted. “I had a few niggling injuries so I couldn’t do much work. I only bowled in two games before the first County Championship game and being quite fresh really helped.

“We have a new Strength & Conditioning coach, Bob Smith, who’s really got me fit and in a good place with my body which gives you confidence to run in and bowl without focusing on anything else.”

The PCA MVP Rankings system was introduced in 2007, an innovation which provides a more rigorous analysis of player performances than traditional batting and bowling averages.

The rankings were designed by the players to identify the match-winners and key influencers of matches throughout the domestic season.

The formula takes into account conditions, quality of opposition, captaincy and strike-rates as well as runs scored and wickets taken, something Norwell approves of: “The MVP is something the lads in the changing room talk about a lot because it shows how you rank against your fellow cricketers.

“You see the likes of Jeetan Patel and Darren Stevens always up there and you want to be up there too. The MVP is a great system and I’m just proud to be voted the Player of the Month after making it into the top four of the MVP in April.”

To view the latest MVP Rankings click here.