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We pick out the individual highlights of the 2019 domestic season so far.
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With Monday 1 July marking the midway point between the first and last days of County Championship action this season, we take a look back at some of the individual highlights that have lit up the 2019 season so far.
Overall MVP: Lewis Gregory
Somerset’s Lewis Gregory has comfortably been the standout performer on the domestic stage this year. Gregory currently tops both the Overall and County Championship Most Valuable Player Rankings, each by a margin of at least 20 points.
Indeed, such has the 27-year-old’s dominance been that Gregory has been nominated for Player of the Month in every month of the season so far, and has non-consecutively led the Overall MVP for 63 out of the 88 completed days.
In terms of averages, the all-rounder has compiled 579 runs at 34.06 across the two formats, and taken 50 wickets at 18.36 apiece. No player has had more fixtures to do it in than Gregory’s 17, but that’s no surprise given his ongoing outstanding form.
Gregory’s appearance record is also partly down to Somerset’s considerable successes on the pitch. The Plymouth-born man’s outstanding contributions have already helped his side to Royal London One-Day Cup success, and Somerset are already looking like favourites for a first ever County Championship crown.
Royal London One-Day Cup MVP: Saqib Mahmood
Whilst Somerset may have ultimately triumphed in this year’s One-Day Cup, it was Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood who took home the MVP award for the tournament.
Mahmood bowled outstandingly throughout to claim 28 One-Day Cup scalps at just 18.50 in his 10 appearances. He came close to inspiring his side to glory, but Lancashire were eventually edged out by Hampshire in the penultimate over of their semi-final at the Ageas Bowl.
After holding off a late challenge from Somerset’s Craig Overton to claim the MVP award, the prodigiously talented 22-year-old looked to the future, expressing his desire to one day represent England.
Best batsman: Gary Ballance
No player has earned more MVP batting points than Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance, with 186.61.
The 29-year-old already has 975 runs at 69.64 across the two formats, and has scored more runs than anyone else in Division One, thanks in no small part to his amazing streak of recording a century in each of the first four Championship fixtures of the season.
Best bowler: Jeetan Patel
Jeetan Patel’s bowling statistics for the 2019 season have to be seen to be believed.
The Warwickshire skipper has 60 wickets at 18.95 in just 15 appearances across the two formats. Unsurprisingly, his haul of 276.08 MVP bowling points can’t be bettered at this point, despite the best efforts of Hampshire’s Kyle Abbott, who sits a distance second with 229.53 bowling points.
Best fielder: Ben Foakes
In a season where he passed 5,000 first-class runs with the bat, Surrey’s Ben Foakes has also distinguished himself behind the stumps once again.
Somerset’s Steve Davies and Kent’s Ollie Robinson may both have more Championship dismissals this season than Foakes, but the England international benefits from being his side’s first choice keeper in both the 50-over and longer formats. No player has more than his 60 MVP fielding points this year.
County Championship performance of the season so far: Jeetan Patel
It’s a second mention for Jeetan Patel for his remarkable performance in what was a remarkable fixture between Warwickshire and Surrey in late May.
In a rain-affected game at Edgbaston, Patel would have been more than happy with his first innings return of 4-53 from his 31 overs. More was to come though as the 39-year-old claimed a career-best 8-36 on the final day to sink Surrey with just 10 overs to spare, just hours after 41-year-old counterpart Gareth Batty had already posted career-best figures of 8-64. Patel accrued a mammoth 60.98 MVP points after inspiring his side to a scarcely believable victory.
One-Day Cup performance of the season: James Vince
Hampshire’s James Vince finished the 2019 One-Day Cup as the competition’s third highest run-scorer, thanks in no small part to his mammoth 190 against Gloucestershire on 26 April.
Vince rattled along at a strike rate of 123.38, eventually accounting for 57% of his team’s total of 331 and earning 45.74 MVP points in the process. The 28-year-old’s limited overs prowess didn’t go unnoticed, as he was soon rewarded with a call-up to England’s 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup squad.
Big game player: Josh Davey
Whilst Mahmood and Vince produced big performances throughout this year’s One-Day Cup, Somerset’s Josh Davey was the man for the big occasion on the day of the final.
The Scotland seamer bowled brilliantly to remove both opposition openers, returning figures of 2-28 from his eight overs to help restrict Hampshire to 244-8. Davey took home the MVP award with 13.65 points after his team comfortably chased down that total with 6.3 overs to spare.
King of Division 2: Marnus Labuschagne
Each of the current Overall MVP top four plies their trade in the top tier of English domestic cricket, but Glamorgan’s Marnus Labuschagne – currently in fifth position – has been flying the flag for players in Division Two.
Labuschagne’s 957 runs at 68.36 and 16 first-class wickets have helped the Welsh county to rise to the top of the second tier. No doubt the young Australian will be hoping his fine form in English conditions will help him to secure an Ashes call-up later this summer.
Luckiest MVP: Tom Helm
The incessant rain of mid-June was a major talking point as a record three Cricket World Cup games were abandoned in a single week. Middlesex’s Tom Helm wasn’t complaining though, as he won the MVP for his side’s clash against Leicestershire with just 6.42 points – the lowest total of the season by any MVP – after claiming 1-9 in match that lasted just 11 overs.
The MVP formula was designed by the players to identify the match-winners and key influencers of matches throughout the domestic and international season. The innovation provides a more rigorous analysis of player performances than traditional batting and bowling averages.
For example, runs gain more points if they are scored quickly or in low-scoring contests and top order wickets are judged more valuable than those that fall later. Catches, run-outs and stumpings are also accounted for as well as bonus points for captains and players who are on the victorious side.
The player who tops the Overall County MVP Rankings at the end of the season receives a £10,000 reward, following in the footsteps of 2018 victor Joe Denly.
View the MVP Rankings here.
Keep up to date with all the latest MVP news by following the @pcaMVP on Twitter.