The end of the domestic cricket season has come and as the nights draw in I must congratulate Essex on a well deserved win in the County Championship.
Somerset started the campaign like a train, but Essex were simply more consistent, losing just one game all season to their competitors’ three.
Rain proved to be the decider in the final fixture between the two sides at Taunton, but overall I think Essex were worthy winners.
They are a very good team, with the best player in the division in Simon Harmer.
The South African off-spinner had yet another brilliant season, taking 83 wickets at an average of 18.28, which made a huge difference at the back end of the year as pitches became drier.
When Surrey won the title last season they had Amar Virdi doing a similar job, while Harmer took 72 scalps in Essex’s 2017 triumph too.
Jack Leach did well for Somerset when he was available, but having Harmer’s consistency on board for a whole season was telling.
Although Essex won the biggest prize there was another major beneficiary of the 2019 season.
Dom Sibley finished way out in front in terms of runs scored in both divisions, finishing on 1,324 at an average of 69.68 for Warwickshire, and was rewarded with a place on England’s upcoming tour of New Zealand.
We’ve seen it before with the likes of Mark Stoneman, Haseeb Hameed, Adam Lyth and Nick Compton that you can get selected by weight of runs and Sibley is completely deserving of the Test call-up.
England are yet to fill the void created by Alastair Cook’s retirement last year and will hope Sibley can follow Rory Burns’s lead at the top of the order.
The right-hander looks to be exactly what they need. He has a similar temperament to Burns – he won’t score fast and isn’t the prettiest on the eye, but he should blunt the new ball and allow others, like Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and the recalled Ollie Pope, to flourish lower down the order.
Although Jonny Bairstow has been dropped, he still has a central contract so I think it’s a case of him taking some time to relax after a busy period.
Kent’s Zak Crawley has also been called up and I think November’s tour to New Zealand is a good time to blood youngsters.
Lancashire leg-spinner Matt Parkinson and pace bowler Saqib Mahmood have also been included and, with Moeen Ali out of the team, Jimmy Anderson injured and Stuart Broad not getting any younger, they can certainly be ones for the future.
New Zealand is a good place to tour. It’s nothing like Australia; although they use the Kookaburra ball the conditions can be similar to here, with plenty in the pitch.
The Black Caps have world-class players and shouldn’t be underestimated, but with new faces in the squad and a new coach close to being appointed it’s an exciting time for England.
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