Middlesex and Warwickshire go down; Notts succeed on three fronts
By Sky Sports Cricket
Last Updated: 02/10/17 8:37am
Middlesex - we think - and Warwickshire suffer County Championship relegation, while there is triple joy for Nottinghamshire. Read part two of our our county review...
Specsavers County Championship: 7th in Division One (Relegated)
NatWest T20 Blast: 7th in South Group
Royal London One-Day Cup: 8th in South Group
Main man: Sam Robson
Young star: Tom Helm
Middlesex became the first side since Lancashire in 2012 to be relegated a year after winning the Championship, finishing a point behind Somerset in seventh following a 231-run defeat to them. Lack of runs was an issue, with Sam Robson (39.25) the only batsman to average anywhere near 40.
The two points Middlesex were deducted for a slow over rate in their abandoned game at Surrey - the crossbow incident denying them the chance to improve that stat - proved costly as they dropped into the second tier for the first time since 2011, a fate they are now appealing.
Their white-ball form was disappointing, too, with the Lord's side failing to make it past the group stages in the One-Day Cup and the T20 Blast, and Blast skipper Brendon McCullum only firing fleetingly in the shortest form, a 51-ball 88 against Kent in Richmond his standout knock.
Any positives? Well, young pacer Tom Helm, a man Mike Atherton rates extremely highly, snared 19 Blast wickets, and senior seamer Steve Finn signed a new deal, despite interest from Lancashire. Stevie Eskinazi also scored 793 Championship runs, including two tons and four fifties.
Specsavers County Championship: 3rd in Division Two
NatWest T20 Blast: 6th in North Group
Royal London One-Day Cup: 8th in North Group
Main man: Rory Kleinveldt
Young star: Max Holden
Northants' hopes of defending their T20 Blast title were dented when Yorkshire's Adam Lyth cracked them for the highest score in English T20 cricket - 161 from 73 deliveries - and then ended by a wash-out at Durham in their final group-stage encounter.
Promotion in the Championship remained a real possibility all season long, though, before Steelbacks were eventually edged out by Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire - Northants' nine wins in 14 games only enough to earn third position in the table.
Ben Duckett scored three tons, including one before lunch in the pink-ball game in July, but the Mr Consistent in Northants' batting line-up was Rob Newton, the 27-year-old only hitting one hundred but amassing 10 half-centuries as he totalled 894 runs in his 14 games.
The bowling was led by the burly Rory Kleinvedt, the South African ending his campaign with 50 Championship scalps after taking 9-65 against Nottinghamshire en route to match figures of 13-98. Ben Sanderson and Richard Gleeson chipped in with 40 wickets apiece.
Specsavers County Championship: 2nd in Division Two (Promoted)
NatWest T20 Blast: Winners (beat Birmingham in the final)
Royal London One-Day Cup: Winners (beat Surrey in the final)
Main man: Samit Patel
Young star: Brett Hutton
Notts were this season's white-ball kings and they weren't too shabby with the red conker either! Alex Hales' limited-overs form was scintillating - his top performances including 187 not out in the One-Day Cup final against Surrey and 95 from 30 against Durham balls in the Blast - albeit that recent events have taken the gloss of his campaign.
Samit Patel was the undisputed main man across all forms during Notts' triple success, though, averaging over 53 in the Championship, over 67 in the One-Day Cup and flourishing at Blast Finals Day with run outs and runs, including an unbeaten 64 in the final.
Notts suffered a wobble in the Championship and had to secure a draw at Sussex last up to achieve promotion after losing to Worcestershire and Northants, but they were always in control after Stuart Broad and James Pattinson helped them win four of their first five games.
A new era will begin in 2018 with long-time wicketkeeper and captain Chris Read having retired - the 39-year-old bowing out with a 26th first-class hundred - but recruitment has begun in earnest with Notts snapping up all-rounder Paul Coughlin from Durham, much to Sir Ian Botham's chagrin.
Specsavers County Championship: 6th in Division One
NatWest T20 Blast: Play-offs (lost to Nottinghamshire)
Royal London One-Day Cup: Quarter-finals (lost to Nottinghamshire)
Main man: Craig Overton
Young star: Dominic Bess
Much like Middlesex, Somerset struggled to replicate the previous year's success, with a second-place finish in 2016 followed by a season of struggle - Tom Abell's side battling to survival following a run of three wins from their last four games to send director of cricket Matthew Maynard off in style.
Spinner Jack Leach was instrumental in that late-season dash, collecting three five-wicket hauls in that time to move past 50 scalps for the second straight season and cause consternation in some quarters when he was not named in England's Ashes squad as Moeen Ali's back-up.
Craig Overton (46 wickets) will board the plane to Australia, while young spinner Dominic Bess (36) could be an England star of the future. Both will be playing with Marcus Trescothick next term, after the former England opener signed a deal to take his spell at Somerset into a 26th season.
Somerset's one-day form was bright, too, with only a power-packed Nottinghamshire outfit ending the Taunton team's Blast and One-Day Cup hopes, Somerset losing a run-fest to Outlaws in the 50-over competition in which they made 405 chasing 430 to win.
Specsavers County Championship: 3rd in Division One
NatWest T20 Blast: Quarter-finals (lost to Warwickshire)
Royal London One-Day Cup: Runners-up (lost to Nottinghamshire)
Main man: Kumar Sangakkara
Young star: Ollie Pope
If Kumar Sangakkara's plan was to retire at the top of his game, he has timed his exit perfectly. No one scored more Championship runs than the Sri Lankan's 1491 in 2017, Sangakkara hitting eight hundreds and two fifties in 16 innings at a stonking average of 106.50.
Sangakkara's ton at Yorkshire in the One-Day Cup play-off was the 100th of his career across the formats but all his efforts throughout the year were not enough for Surrey to scoop a trophy, the Oval outfit losing the One-Day Cup final for the third straight year.
All the talk ahead of the T20 Blast was about Kevin Pietersen's swansong but he only figured in two matches, striking a fifty on comeback against Essex and then tearing his calf against Middlesex and running out Aaron Finch, much to the Australian's displeasure.
Pietersen is done at The Oval, so is Sangakkara and Mark Stoneman's availability will be limited if he nails down the England opener's berth, but with Rory Burns, the Curran brothers, Ben Foakes and Ollie Pope stepping up, perhaps 2018 will be the year Surrey land some prominent silverware.
Specsavers County Championship: 4th in Division Two
NatWest T20 Blast: 5th in South Group
Royal London One-Day Cup: 5th in South Group
Main man: Luke Wells
Young star: Jofra Archer
Not Sussex's finest season as they missed out on promotion back to the top flight and failed to make the business end of the one-day competitions, but they have unearthed a real talent in Jofra Archer, the Barbados-born seamer bagging 61 Championship wickets at a lick over 25.
Archer, who has just inked a new long-term deal with the Hove county, chipped in with five fifties, too, though opening batsman Luke Wells topped the run-scoring charts in Division Two, with his return of 1292 only superseded by Sangakkara's across the two divisions.
Sussex will be hopeful of bettering 2016's fourth-placed finish next time around, though, with a host of promising young players in their ranks, including batsman Michael Burgess and seam bowler Ollie Robinson. Chris Jordan is a big presence, too, now that England appearances are fleeting.
No one matched Chris Nash's tally of six fifty-plus scores in the Blast - though Sussex were severely hampered by Tymal Mills' injury, the speedster restricted to just four games, with his 3-20 against Surrey, in which he ousted Jason Roy and Aaron Finch, a reminder of his talent.
Specsavers County Championship: 8th in Division One (Relegated)
NatWest T20 Blast: Runners-up (lost to Nottinghamshire)
Royal London One-Day Cup: 9th in North Group
Main man: Jonathan Trott
Young star: Ed Pollock
2017 is a season Warwickshire would like to forget, save for their run to the NatWest T20 Blast Final. The Bears finished rock bottom of the Championship, achieving a paltry 19 batting points, with Jonathan Trott (967 runs) ploughing a lone furrow on that front.
Warwickshire were also basement boys in the One-Day Cup, winning just two of their six games, despite Sam Hain clobbering two tons and a couple of half-centuries and Ian Bell finding some form that eluded him for the vast majority of the campaign.
The Blast offered some salvation, though, with veteran Kiwis Grant Elliott and Jeetan Patel plus a host of young guns firing them to Finals Day, Hain, Dominic Sibley and Adam Hose - mid-season arrivals from Surrey and Somerset respectively - and Ed Pollock impressing.
The other Ryan Sidebottom - an Australia-born paceman - offered hope for four-day cricket next term by scooping 23 wickets in six games at the back-end of the campaign and if Trott can plunder runs in Division Two and Bell finds his mojo again, the Bears will be targeting promotion.
Specsavers County Championship: 1st in Division Two (Promoted)
NatWest T20 Blast: 8th in North Group
Royal London One-Day Cup: Semi-finals (lost to Surrey)
Main man: Joe Leach/Daryl Mitchell
Young star: Joe Clarke/Josh Tongue
Worcestershire have traditionally yo-yoed between the divisions, with their latest promotion their sixth in 15 seasons. This success hinged on the runs of Daryl Mitchell (1266 with seven centuries) and the wickets of skipper Joe Leach (69 scalps with four five-wicket hauls).
Yet there were fine supporting roles from Joe Clarke (920 runs) and Brett D'Oliveira (891) with the blade and Ed Barnard and Josh Tongue (47 wickets apiece) with the ball as Worcestershire won nine matches and finished 16 points clear of second-placed Notts.
Leach's side were also on for a Lord's final after topping the North Group in the One-Day Cup, only to run into a Surrey side inspired by Gareth Batty's five-wicket haul and Jason Roy's rollicking 92 in their semi-final at New Road.
T20 remains a tough gig for Worcestershire, though - they are one of only two sides, Derbyshire being the other, not to reach Finals Day since its inception in 2003. Clarke adding to his burgeoning reputation in the competition, though, by smearing 124no from 53 balls.
Specsavers County Championship: 4th in Division One
NatWest T20 Blast: 5th in North Group
Royal London One-Day Cup: Play-offs (lost to Surrey)
Andrew Gale's transition from player to head coach had its challenges, with Yorkshire, champions in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and third last time out, only securing safety with bonus points in their final match, a 376-run hammering by runaway Championship winners Essex.
Skipper Gary Ballance racked up in the runs in the early part of the season, convincing England to give him another crack at international cricket, but no one else really got going consistently as Yorkshire accrued only 24 batting points.
Seamer Ben Coad got going with the ball, mind you, snaring 50 wickets at 20.86, while Ryan Sidebottom, in his final season, bagged 25 in eight games. One-Day Cup-wise, Azeem Rafiq took 18 scalps before a side depleted by England call-ups lost to a Sangakkara-inspired Surrey.
The aforementioned Lyth was the main man in the Blast with the blade - his 161 featuring 20 fours and seven sixes - while talisman Tim Bresnan and Rafiq chipped in with 17 wickets apiece. The Headingley side will expect to do better on all fronts in 2018, however.