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England international’s fine form inspires three wins from four.
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A series of outstanding performances from Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan have seen him top the PCA’s Vitality Blast Most Valuable Player Rankings going into the third week of the 2019 competition.
The England international is currently the Blast’s second-highest run-scorer, with 211 at 70.33 from his four appearances so far. More importantly, though, he has produced match-winning performances throughout the competition.
His 117 in the London derby with Surrey at the Oval on 23 July in particular was one of the best individual performances of the summer so far.
Malan struck seven sixes during that innings, helping him to accumulate his runs at a rapid strike rate of 205.26. His efforts accounted for a massive 57% of his side’s eventual total of 209-3. Only Essex’s Cameron Delport (42.61 v Surrey on 19 July) has accrued more MVP points in a single Blast match than Malan’s 42.3 that day.
The 31-year-old has backed that performance up with 43 against Essex at Lord’s on the opening day, and a subsequent 45 not out away at Glamorgan on 26 July.
He has also captained Middlesex to three wins from his side’s four games so far, earning him three bonus MVP points. As a result, Malan currently leads the Blast MVP with 66.88 points.
Whilst Malan has been responsible for much of his side’s success with the bat, bowling counterpart Toby Roland-Jones has excelled with the ball.
The giant seamer has made an inspirational comeback from long-term injury this season, finding some of his best form in a Middlesex shirt. He is the Blast’s top wicket-taker with 11 at 10.54, thanks largely to two brilliant performances against Surrey and Glamorgan.
In the same game that Malan made his aforementioned 117, Roland-Jones took 4-35 (including the key wickets of Ollie Pope, Rikki Clarke and Tom Curran) to help Middlesex restrict Surrey to 172-9 in response to their imposing total.
Roland-Jones went one step further against Glamorgan three days later by claiming 5-21, including a memorable hat-trick to end the Welsh side’s innings. Unsurprisingly, the 31-year-old was named MVP for that game with 26.4 points, propelling him to fifth in the Blast Ranking.
Somerset opener Babar Azam joins Malan and Roland-Jones in the Blast MVP top five for the time being.
On the back of a good showing for Pakistan in the recent ICC Cricket World Cup, Azam has continued his excellent run of form to be the Blast’s current top run-scorer. He has been named the PCA MVP in each of his last two outings after making 95 not out and 83 against Hampshire and Sussex Sharks respectively, despite ending up on the losing side on both occasions.
He is not the only World Cup star to have made an impact on their return to domestic cricket. Worcestershire Rapids’ Martin Guptill struck an unbelievable 86 not out from 31 balls as his side chased down Durham’s 182 in just 12.1 overs on 28 July.
On the same day, Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey made 78 of Sussex’s 184 on debut during their victory over Somerset. Both Carey and Guptill have proved that they are ones to watch over the second half of the summer.
Completing the Blast MVP top three behind Malan and Azam is Durham’s D’Arcy Short.
The MVP algorithm is suited to players such as Short, since it recognises the importance of the genuine all-rounder. Points are awarded, for example, for scoring quickly, hitting a high proportion of your side’s total and taking top order wickets, amongst other disciplines.
Short has arguably been the standout all-rounder of the Blast so far, making 151 runs at 50.33 and taking four wickets 26.75. It’s no surprise to see him in contention for the Blast MVP as a result.
Perhaps the most anticipated fixture of the week was Yorkshire Vikings’ clash with Lancashire Lightning in the Roses match.
It was the Red Rose that prevailed by just nine runs after a predictably thrilling match, thanks largely to the efforts of fast bowler Saqib Mahmood. Already the 2019 Royal London One-Day Cup MVP, the 22-year-old claimed the three crucial wickets of Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Nicholas Pooran and Dom Bess to inspire his side to victory.
Whilst it’s no surprise to see Mahmood among the wickets, few would have predicted the success that Sussex Sharks’ Reece Topley would enjoy upon his return from injury.
The towering seamer’s first over for the Hove-based side resulted in a three-wicket maiden, and he eventually claimed 4-33 during his current side’s 14-run victory over his former team. It was a deserved return for a player who has endured such a long battle against near-constant injury.
In terms of the Overall MVP, Somerset’s Lewis Gregory has returned to the summit at the expense of Birmingham Bears skipper Jeetan Patel, reversing the pairs’ fortunes from last week.
After being called up to the England Test squad to face Ireland at Lord’s, Gregory returned to the domestic fold to claim a combined 5-61 from his two subsequent Blast appearances against Hampshire and Sussex Sharks.
It’s enough for him to currently lead the Overall Ranking by just six points from Patel. The battle between the two for the £10,000 prize at the end of the season looks set to go right down to the wire.
View the Vitality Blast MVP Rankings here.
View the Overall MVP Rankings here.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest MVP news by following the @pcaMVP on Twitter.