After a long, wet summer the domestic season is finally done and dusted (or drowned out, considering the rain). We pick out the best of what was a tough campaign for both players and groundstaff everywhere...
Last Updated: 19/09/12 6:11pm
Wet, wet, wet. No three words better sum up the 2012 English summer. Yet despite the bad weather there was first-class cricket played, and some very good cricket at that.
Warwickshire won Division One of the LV= County Championship, Derbyshire and Yorkshire clinched promotion in a dramatic conclusion in the second tier and Hampshire proved to be the undoubted cup kings.
Here, Joe Drabble, Graeme Mair and Rob Lancaster, skysports.com's so-called trio of cricket experts, pick out their stars of the season. Feel free to slightly agree/strongly disagree with their selections by filling in the feedback form at the bottom of the page...
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Joe Drabble: Nick Compton (Somerset)
Compton was the definition of a player who hit the ground running in 2012. The Somerset batsman, despite only playing in 11 of his county's 16 Division One fixtures, still finished as the league's leading run-scorer. The 29-year-old almost reached the 1,000 run mark before May, an opening knock of 99 against Middlesex the start of what was to be a golden summer for the grandson of former England great Denis Compton. His form has led to him being pushed for an England Test call. Speaking on his chances of being selected for this winter's tour of India, Compton said: "If I haven't done enough to merit a chance, I'm not sure what more I could do." Andrew Strauss' retirement has left a vacancy at the top of the order, surely Compton deserves his chance?
Graeme Mair: Nick Compton (Somerset)
Compton stood head and shoulders above the rest this summer, reaching 1,000 first-class runs on June 1 despite tough conditions for batting during the opening two months of the season. A back injury slowed his progress in the second half of the season but he still finished as the top batsman in the country, his 1,494 runs came at an average of 99.60 and helped Somerset to second place in Division One. Compton's excellence during a bowlers' summer give him the edge over resurgent Durham seamer Graham Onions, the leading wicket taker in the top flight with 64, and Chris Wright, whose 62 wickets were a major factor in Warwickshire winning the title.
Rob Lancaster: Chris Wright (Warwickshire)
While the other two have picked out a batsman (and the same one at that), it seems only right to select a seamer in what has been the mother of all wet summers. Towards the end of the 2011 season Wright was deemed surplus to requirements at Essex. A brief loan stint at Warwickshire, however, changed his career path completely. Now, 12 months on, the right-armer has finished with 58 first-class scalps at an average of just under 24, figures that have helped the Bears be crowned champions of Division One in the LV= County Championship. A worthy mention to his usual new-ball partner, too, in all-rounder Keith Barker. The pair showed their importance by sharing all 10 wickets in the first-innings of the title-clinching win over Worcestershire at New Road.
TEAM OF THE SEASON
With the likes of Yorkshire and Hampshire back in Division Two, the bookmakers didn't give Derbyshire a hope of challenging for title honours at the start of the season. But a side built on team spirit and work ethic rather than individual stars led the way for long parts of the season before overcoming a late wobble to edge out Yorkshire for the trophy - their first since 1993. Surviving in the top-flight next year on a limited budget will be a tough ask for the Falcons, who will once again rely heavily on a world class overseas acquisition. But it was the performances of the bowling unit which inspired the team. Former Yorkshire left-arm spinner David Wainwright and seamer Tony Palladino both took 50 first-class wickets.
Hampshire were the outstanding limited-overs team in the country by some distance, claiming a cup double in the Friends Life t20 and Clydesdale Bank 40. The Royals had all bases covered in the white-ball formats, combining aggressive batting all the way down the order with a varied bowling attack and well drilled fielding. Everybody knew their role and what was expected of them. The only disappointment on the south coast was the team's inability to escape from Division Two of the County Championship.
Before you ask, I'm not from Birmingham. But with Hampshire and Derbyshire already named above, it seems only fair that Warwickshire get one vote. While their success hardly came as a surprise, it was still nonetheless impressive considering how they had come so close the previous year. Rather than mull over the near miss, director of cricket Ashley Giles regrouped his squad and made sure they went one better this year. Their batting in particular was key (they claimed 10 more bonus points than any other top-flight team) as their all-round depth often got them big scores, while New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel was a success as their overseas signing.
COACH/CAPTAIN OF THE SEASON
JD: Jason Gillespie (Yorkshire)
After a disastrous 2011 season, in which Yorkshire were relegated to Division Two, the White Rose county undertook a major reshuffle in an attempt to reverse the club's fortunes. The appointment of former Australian pace bowler Jason Gillespie as head coach looked a massive gamble, yet, despite his limited coaching experience, it proved a calculated one. Promotion back to the top-flight was secured and a maiden trip to Finals Day was also achieved. No side lost more overs to the inclement British weather than the Tykes, making their top-two finish in Division Two an even greater feat. Coach Gillespie and chief executive Colin Graves must take a large chunk of the credit and the club can now look forward to competing in the money-spinning Champions League T20 in the winter.
GM: Karl Krikken and Wayne Madsen (Derbyshire)
After being relegated from Division One in the first year of the two tier championship more than a decade ago, Derbyshire became a byword for mediocrity and dysfunction. All that changed in 2012, the coach-captain axis of Karl Krikken and Wayne Madsen oversaw a return to the top flight as Division Two champions in their first season together. It was deserved reward for the county's creative approach to squad building, in particular the willingness to give a second chance to players surplus to requirements elsewhere, most notably Wes Durston, Tony Palladino and David Wainwright.
RL: Jimmy Adams (Kent)
It was a case of so near but yet so far for Kent, who firstly missed out on a semi-final in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition and then fell short in their bid to win promotion from Division Two of the LV= County Championship. Their final-week defeat to lowly Glamorgan was a disappointing end to an otherwise excellent first season in charge for Adams, the West Indian having been something of a surprise choice to take charge at Canterbury. Seam duo Mark Davies and Charlie Shreck and batsman Michael Powell proved astute signings, while the likes of Matt Coles and Sam Northeast stepped up to the plate in first-class action. Adams can take plenty of praise for his work, though the pressure will be on next summer.
MOMENT OF THE SEASON
JD: Joe Root/ David Millar wonder catch
My two most memorable moments of the season took place within 24 hours of each other. Firstly, Scott Styris went into overdrive to power Sussex to a quarter-final victory over Gloucestershire (more shortly). After watching his heroics from the comfort of my couch, I ventured down to Headingley the following evening to witness one of the finest pieces of fielding I've ever seen live. In a match between Yorkshire and Worcestershire littered with sixes, Joe Root and David Millar combined superbly to dismiss James Cameron. Root showed incredible balance and then speed of thought to catch Cameron on the midwicket fence, and, with his momentum taking him over the rope, throw the ball back to Millar, who was on hand to complete the catch. Quite brilliant.
GM: Scott Styris flattens Gladiators
Styris picked up the Walter Lawrence Trophy for the quickest hundred of the season thanks to a 37-ball century for Sussex against Gloucestershire in the Friends Life t20 quarter-final. The New Zealand all-rounder needed one delivery for every year of his life to reach three figures, keeping running between the wickets to a minimum with five fours and nine sixes. His second 50 came off 13 balls and he finished on 100 not out, an innings that set up a 39-run win for the Sharks.
RL: Get Carter at Lord's
The script looked to be written at Lord's on the final day of the domestic summer. Neil Carter strolled out to the middle in his final match for Warwickshire with the chance to sign off as a one-day winner at Lord's. Needing five to win from two deliveries the left-hander duly smacked Kabir Ali through the covers for four. All seemed to be going according to plan at that stage, only for Carter to miss a similar delivery completely when his side only required one off the last. His fresh-air shot meant the scores finished tied, with Hampshire taking the trophy due to fewer wickets lost.