Rory Hamilton-Brown (Surrey, Captain) – 1039 runs at 37.10: We’ll probably get it in the neck for this pick, but in our view the boy king (and one of our ten to watch in 2011) had a tremendous season. He took on the challenge and added responsibility of opening the batting with gusto and led his charges back into the top division. Chris Adams reckons his young skipper will captain England one day – we’re not sure about that, but he pips Stephen Peters, Alviro Petersen and the resurgent Joe Denly to an opening berth in this XI.
Sam Robson (Middlesex) – 885 runs at 59.00: His season’s entry was delayed by the presence of Andrew Strauss, but the 22 year old more than made up for the wait with a string of impressive performances to lay a solid foundation for his side’s climb back into the top flight.
Chris Rogers (Middlesex) – 1286 runs at 58.45: His runs propelled Middlesex’s title success and once again left this observer scratching his head as to how the Australian selectors only gave the Victorian just the one solitary Test cap.
Zander de Bruyn (Surrey) – 1383 runs at 55.32; 15 wickets at 39.26: Proved a canny acquisition with four hundreds and nine fifties to be the leading run scorer in the division. Having taking a risk in dropping a division when moving from Taunton, he is now back where he belongs. If that wasn’t enough, he chipped in with some useful wickets too.
Tom Maynard (Surrey) - 1022 runs at 40.88 There’s certainly a Surrey flavour to our batting line-up, with Maynard immediately fulfilling his promise at The Oval following his acrimonious departure from Glamorgan. Of his three Championship hundreds, none would have given him more pleasure than his maiden first-class ton, which came at of all places – Cardiff. Beats Chris Taylor, Will Durston and James Taylor (who despite being the best number four in county cricket was generally a bit below par in the Championship) to the final batting slot.
James Foster (Essex) – 931 runs at 46.55: Stephen Davies and Mark Wallace may have scored more runs, whilst John Simpson also impressed, but Foster’s superiority with the gloves and a decent tally of runs gets our vote.
Will Gidman (Gloucestershire) – 51 wickets at 21.33; 1006 runs at 45.72: Topped the Gloucestershire averages with both bat and ball and was the only player in either division to complete the double of 1,000 runs and 50 wickets. Gareth Berg, Darren Stevens and Andrew Hall also impressed, but it was Gidman who was head and shoulders above the pack.
Stuart Meaker (Surrey) – 44 wickets at 22.56: With the other seamers we’ve picked, we needed a pace weapon and Meaker was anything but mild. His team-mate Tim Linley may have taken more wickets (73 at 18.34), but Meaker’s came from only 10 matches at a strike rate of 38 and it was his devastating spell at Northampton that gave his side the vital initiative in a must-win game. Born in Durban, so seems to have all the qualifications required to play for England too!
David Masters (Essex) – 93 wickets at 18.13: The highest wicket-taker in the country despite playing in a struggling side and an absolute master of line and length, as well as miserliness. Leicestershire’s batsmen must still be having nightmares about his eight for 10 against them in July – one of eight times he took five wickets or more in an innings.
Tim Murtagh (Middlesex) – 80 wickets at 20.98: The primary weapon in Middlesex’s arsenal had a magnificent season taking a wicket every 36.4 deliveries and clearly enjoyed bowling with the Tiflex ball. Will he be as successful next summer with the Duke ball against Division 1 batsmen? Other seamers considered included the wily old Chaminda Vaas (70 wickets at 21.44) and David Balcombe (33 wickets in five matches for Kent at just 17.81).
Pragyan Ojha (Surrey) – 24 wickets at 12.95: What would have been a close battle between Dean Cosker (49 wickets at 33.67) and James Middlebrook (43 wickets at 30.39 as well as 644 runs at 42.93) became no contest after Ojha’s devastating four match spell for Surrey. Four wins , 24 wickets and one promotion later, one has to ask how Amit Mishra was preferred to Ojha in India’s Test squad this summer.
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