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The all-rounder was deposed from first position last week, but not for long.
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The unstoppable form of Lewis Gregory saw him return to the top of the PCA’s Overall Most Valuable Player Ranking this week at the expense of teammate Craig Overton.
Last time out, Overton took advantage of teammate Gregory’s injury absence to move top of the Overall MVP. The big all-rounder has enjoyed a fine season so far but, as it turned out, his dominance was to last less than seven days.
In a week that saw the abandonment of a record four Cricket World Cup games due to inclement weather, the first-class fixture list was always likely to suffer as well.
As a result, almost all of the headlines came from Canterbury, where leaders Somerset overcame Kent in an extraordinary game, and provided what could prove to be the only definitive result of the week.
The chief cause of that was the sensational bowling performance of 27-year-old Gregory, who returned from injury with a bang to record scarcely believable career-best match figures of 11-53, and become the Championship’s joint leading wicket-taker with 35, alongside Warwickshire’s Jeetan Patel.
Gregory would have settled for his first innings return, after his 6-32 (an innings career best) helped to remove Kent for just 139 on a bowler-friendly surface. However, few could have foreseen what was to come next.
With Kent 32-2 mid-afternoon on the fourth day and seemingly set for a draw with some help from the weather, Gregory – with bowling partner Overton who took three wickets for juts seven runs – returned to the fold to blow the Spitfires’ batting line-up away. His 5-21 restricted Kent to 59 all out, leaving Somerset a measly 30 runs to win – a total that they duly knocked off without so much as losing a wicket.
Gregory picked up 55.94 MVP points in the match – the third highest tally of the season so far. The Somerset star is now in pole position to take home the £10,000 prize awarded to the Overall MVP at the end of the 2019 season.
Both Gregory and Overton alike benefitted from the absence of the aforementioned Patel as they cemented their place at the top of the MVP tree. Warwickshire sat out this week’s round of fixtures, and will return against Yorkshire on Monday 17 June.
Patel will be hoping that the break in fixtures won’t dent his form, as he has taken 22 scalps in his last two first-class outings.
The trio’s outstanding form has put them well clear of the chasing pack for now. A 61-point gap currently exists between Patel (281.91) in third, and Hampshire’s Liam Dawson (220.17), who won’t return to the domestic fold until England’s World Cup campaign is over, in fourth.
In terms of the County Championship MVP standings, Gregory’s performance has unsurprisingly seen him jump above the off-spinning duo of Patel and Essex’s Simon Harmer and into first position. Overton sits fourth, whilst Derbyshire’s Luis Reece, who passed 3,000 first-class runs this week, has risen to fifth.
Elsewhere in the Overall MVP, Hampshire’s Kyle Abbott continued his excellent season, taking 6-37 in a game that lasted just 93 overs at Welbeck.
The big South African leapfrogged up to fifth in the Overall MVP, despite having earned just under four batting points this season – significantly less than his surrounding rivals in the MVP.
Kent’s Matthew Milnes sits just below Abbott, and this week confirmed his place in the Overall MVP top 10 despite his side’s collapse against Somerset.
Milnes has taken regular wickets this season, exemplified by his return of 3-39, including the wicket of Gregory, in Somerset’s only meaningful innings at Canterbury.
Surrey’s Morne Morkel broke into the overall top 25 after a brilliant burst for the defending champions against Yorkshire at Guildford. The big fast bowler showed his international class as he returned figures of 4-43, including the removal of three of the White Rose’s top five.
Derbyshire’s Billy Godleman and Tom Lace shared a remarkable stand of 291 against Glamorgan in Division Two. The former entered the Overall MVP top 20 after hitting a career best 228 to help his side build a considerable lead, whilst the latter will be celebrating in the wake of his maiden first-class century.
Sussex’s Will Beer could prove to be a left-field pick for MVP honours this season.
The leg-spinner, usually a number nine batsman, opened up for Sussex against Gloucestershire and fell agonisingly short of a maiden first-class century after he was bowled for 97.
Beer currently averages just under 30 with the bat and just over 30 with the ball, and his all-round talents could yet see him make his mark on the MVP this year.
As of Friday 14 June, there’s just a one-day break before long format cricket returns once more. Essex take on Hampshire and Middlesex face Glamorgan as round seven of the County Championship gets underway on Sunday.
View the MVP Rankings here.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest MVP news by following the @pcaMVP on Twitter.