This week saw the first round of fixtures take place in the Bob Willis Trophy, a one-off competition replacing the County Championship. With all 18 First-class counties taking part in the competition, there was the chance for fans across the world to follow their favourite teams. Embedded into the teams are a number of players who play for national teams outside of the ICC’s full member teams.
There is a fantastic array of talent within the English First-class cricket cricketing system, and this week during the Bob Willis Trophy players from Associate members were out in force. Emerging Cricket takes a closer look at how each of the players performed during their return to professional cricket.
Cameron Steel (Durham / USA)
Steel now enters his third-year at Durham County Cricket Club, signing for the club in 2017 after being released by Middlesex. During the first round of fixtures in the Bob Willis Trophy, Steel was included in Durham’s squad against Yorkshire at the Emirates Riverside.
Unfortunately for Steel, he was unable to show his true talent during the game. Coming in at three Steel aimed to steady the ship for his side following the early dismal of Alex Lees. Despite showing some resolve at the crease, Steel was unable to score freely and eventually edged behind to a good ball from Jordan Thompson for 9 off 56. With his useful leg-spin not being required by Durham during Yorkshire’s batting innings, he found himself back at the crease with his side 47-1. Unfortunately, the partnership between him and Lees was only able to add 25 runs before Steel found himself run out by Yorkshire wicketkeeper Jonathan Tattersall. When trying to turn for a third run, Steel found himself short thanks to a fantastic bit of fielding meaning he was out for 11.
Overall, it was not the most successful game for Steel, but he is a player with a lot of talent and it is only a matter of time before his season clicks into gear. During the game, there was a special landmark for Steel who passed 2000 First-class runs during the game.
Dieter Klein (Leicestershire / Germany)
The South African born German international was part of Leicestershire’s four-man pace attack for their match against Lancashire. The match was being held at Blackfinch New Road, Worcester, due to lockdown restriction in the city of Leicester and with his team being put into bowl by the opposition, Klein’s bowling was seen early in the game. After Leicestershire made an early breakthrough through Tom Taylor, a steady partnership between Lancashire’s Alex Davies and Josh Bohannon was building nicely. However, Klein’s introduction into the bowling attack was able to disrupt the pair’s progress when he got Alex Davies out for 21, caught by George Rhodes. That was the first wicket of three wickets for Klein during the first innings who bowled the perfect inswinging yorker to remove Rob Jones and then had Josh Bohannon caught behind to finish with figures of 20-0-81-3. However, during the first innings, there was a moment of controversy that could land Klein in trouble with the ECB. The umpires awarded 5 penalty runs to Lancashire after Klein seemingly through a ball at an opponent.
Klein then came into bat at number 9 during Leicestershire’s response. With Leicestershire already having the first-innings lead by the time Klein came into bat, he then set sights on pressing down the advantage. With only a few overs remaining of the Leicestershire batting innings Klein scored 21 off 14 balls remaining not out when Leicestershire declared their innings.
With Leicestershire coming back out to bowl, Klein was brought into the attack as the third change bowler. Klein remained wicketless during Lancashire’s second innings, however, bowled 19 tight overs going at 2.84 runs per over and helped to restrict Lancahsire’s second innings score which proved to be of vital importance.
Colin Ackermann (Leicestershire / The Netherlands)
Colin Ackermann captains Leicestershire and plays a crucial role with both bat and ball for the club. After losing the toss and being sent into bowl, Ackermann brought himself on as the 6th change bowler. Despite only bowling the 5 overs (5-2-21-1), Ackermann took the wicket of the well-set Steven Croft trapping him LBW for 63. Ackermann also took a catch off Chris Wright’s bowling which saw George Balderson’s innings come to an end.
But Ackermann is more known for his batting exploits and he demonstrated these skills perfectly to the Leicestershire fans who were following the game either via radio or digital stream. Ackermann came in at number 4 having seen the opening partnership of Ben Slater and Hassan Azad put on a total of 153. The Leicestershire captain’s innings was both fluid and well-judged, scoring a marvellous 94 off 141 balls before being run out by some fantastic work by Keaton Jennings. Despite the obvious disappointment of not being able to reach three figures, Ackermann must be proud of his innings and appeared to be in fine touch during the first innings.
During Lancashire’s second innings, Ackermann bowled himself to provide a second spin option for his team. He was able to bowl a fantastically economic spell, going for only 6 runs from his 7 overs. Ackermann also picked up the wicket of Tom Hartley during his spell, getting the batsman out LBW.
But it was Ackermann’s final innings performance that will remain in the memory of Leicestershire fans. Once again coming in at 3, Ackermann and the rest of the Leicestershire had a chase on. The team required 150 off 102 balls meaning that Leicestershire were required to take an unusual approach to a First-class game if they wanted to win the game. Coming out to bat with the score at 16-1 after 2.3 overs, Ackermann helped his team win the game with nine balls to spare with a truly fantastic performance. Finishing on 73 off 41* Ackermann top-scored for his club and played a memorable knock which included 10 fours and 1 six. The victory was the perfect start for Leicestershire’s Bob Willis Trophy campaign and Ackermann’s performance will go down as one of the most memorable from the first matchday.
Roelof van der Merwe (Somerset / The Netherlands)
Van der Merwe has been a key player for Somerset since joining them in 2016. Somerset’s season saw them start at home against a Glamorgan side who were much improved during their 2019 County Championship campaign. Somerset won the toss and decided to bat, however, for van der Merwe it was an innings to forget. Coming in at number 8 van der Merwe shuffled across to a ball from Ruaidhri Smith and was out LBW for a 5 ball duck.
During Glamorgan’s reply to Somerset’s first innings score of 296 all out, the left-arm orthodox bowler was unused. However, did take two fine catches to help Somerset’s cause. First catching Kiran Carlson’s edge at third slip off the bowling of Craig Overton and taking almost the exact same catch, again off Craig Overton’s bowling, to mark the end of Dan Douthwaite’s innings.
Moving into Somerset’s second innings and again, unfortunately, it was a brief stay at the crease for van der Merwe who scored 2 off 7 balls before being caught by Nick Selman off the bowling of Carlson.
Moving into the final innings of the game, van der Merwe was called into the bowling attack by captain Tom Abel. Being brought into the attack, van der Merwe bowled 6 overs and picked up a wicket; bowling Billy Root who was one of Glamorgan’s best batsmen last season for 26. Once again, van der Merwe contributed in the field taking another catch to add to his two during the first innings. This time van der Merwe claimed the catch of Ruaidhri Smith off the bowling of Josh Davey.
Josh Davey (Somerset / Scotland)
Josh Davey had a fantastic game with both bat and ball for Somerset. The Scotland international scored a vital 20 off 51 balls in the first innings for Somerset as the team looked to recover from a middle-order collapse. Coming in at number 10 with the team sitting precariously on 149-8, Davey was able to bat with maturity as he and Steven Davies (81 not out) looked to take the team to a respectable score to help enable their bowlers to have something to defend.
Davey then shared the new ball with C.Overton and whilst it will be his opening partner who gains the majority of the plaudits, Davey bowled exceptionally. Returning the figures of 12-7-34-2 not only did Davey bowl with extreme skill and restricted the scoring but he also picked up the key wickets of Nick Selman and Billy Root. Just to top off a fine first innings performance by Davey, he took a catch off the bowling of Jamie Overton at mid-on to help the team remove Marchant de Lange.
Davey was not needed to bat during Somerset’s second innings as the team declared with the scoreboard reading 290-8. Once again sharing the new ball with Overton, Davey once again bowled an impressively economic spell. Picking up the wicket of fellow-Scot Ruaidhri Smith, who looked in good touch during Glamorgan’s first innings, and going at 2.17 runs per over from 12 rounded off what was a fantastic performance for Davey.
Ruaidhri Smith (Glamorgan / Scotland)
Smith took the new ball for Glamorgan in their first innings against Somerset and hit the ground running during county cricket’s return. Smith, bowling right-medium fast, may not have made early inroads for his county but then returned to take the wickets of Kieran Carlson, Roelof van der Merwe and Jamie Overton. The wickets caused a middle-order collapse and with the bowler returning figures of 14-4-41-3 can be pleased with his first-innings performance.
Smith was also Glamorgan’s star with the bat during their first innings. Without context, a score of 23 off 19 balls may look innocuous however this was Glamorgan’s first innings top score as the side were bowled out for 131. Smith showed his ability with the bat taking 22 of a Josh Davey over and highlighted that he is not a one-dimensional cricketer.
Smith, however, was unable to bowl during Somerset’s second innings due to a side strain which was a real loss for the team considering his first innings exploits. The county must be hoping that the injury isn’t too serious considering his apparent form with both bat and ball. With the hamstring injury, it was unclear how Smith was to bat. Smith still took his place at the crease, however, was only able to add 9 onto the team’s toal. But with the hamstring injury, it may be harsh to read too much into the low score.
Ryan ten Doeschate (Essex / The Netherlands)
Ryan ten Doeschate is etched into folk law of Essex County Cricket Club as he enters his 17th year as an Eagle. After handing over the captaincy reins to Tom Westly, ten Doeschate is now able to solely focus on his performance and appeared to have an instant impact on his performance. Essex found themselves at home playing against Kent in what promised to be an entertaining match.
The right-handed ten Doeschate was brought into the attack by Westly to great effect. Despite only bowling the 6 overs, the lowest of any Essex bowler by a considerable margin, he was able to make an impact as he claimed the wicket of Grant Stweart for 37 who looked set to make a larger impact on the scorecard. ten Doeschate showed his class with the ball despite the low workload finishing with figures of 6-0-14-1.
Coming into bat at number 6 during Essex’s first innings, ten Doeschate once again showed why he is loved by county cricket fans across the world. The Dutch allrounder top-scored for Essex with 77 off 170 balls and looked in classic touch. With his innings of 5 fours and 1 six, ten Doeschate showed a fantastic temperament at the crease and some fantastic running between the wickets.
ten Doeschate remained unused during Kent’s second innings. During Essex’s second innings, the Dutchman was trapped LBW for 5 off the bowling of Ivan Thomas.
Delray Rawlins (Sussex / Bermuda)
Sussex, with the services of the enigmatic Delray Rawlins, came up against Hampshire at The 1st Central County Ground. Sussex won the toss and decided to bat, with Rawlins coming into bat at number 6. Rawlins was unable to make his impact on the first innings when he was out for a 13 ball duck when a ball from fellow Associate Ian Holland struck him on the pads to be out LBW.
Fast-forwarding to Sussex second innings, once again Rawlins came to the crease but was unable to get a start. This time he was caught by wicketkeeper Lewis McManus as he edged the bowling of Keith Barker for 13.
The Bermudan, however, had something to smile about as he helped Sussex complete their win over Hampshire with his left-arm orthodox spin. Rawlins may not be known for his bowling but proved that he is able to be thrown the ball when his captain needs him, claiming the wicket of James Fuller.
Ian Holland (Hampshire / USA)
Ian Holland made a promising start to the Bob Willis trophy during his first innings bowling display against Sussex. The right-arm medium-pacer claimed the two wickets of Harry Finch and Delray Rawlins, returning figures of 13-3-27-2.
Then Holland was one of the many Hampshire batsmen who were able to get a start but not push onto a score of note. Holland was out for 13 after he was clean bowled by the impressive George Garton but was able to occupy the crease for 45 balls which was more than some of his other teammates.
Holland’s fine game with the ball continued during Sussex’s second innings, again claiming 2 of the wickets to fall. Holland was arguably one of Hampshire’s stand out bowlers, combining economical bowling with the ability to take wickets. The bowler trapped Sussex opener Tom Haines on the crease to see him depart for 20 and again accounted for Finch, again getting struck on the pads by Holland to see him depart.
Holland mirrored his first innings score of 13 during his second at-bat, this time coming off 22 balls. This time it was the Sussex debutant, Jack Carson, who accounted for Holland’s wicket. Despite not scoring a plethora of runs for his club, Holland should be proud of his efforts in the first round of the Bob Willis trophy. His ability to bowl line and length at a controlled pace paid dividends for the American national player and proved that he should be considered for selection in the first team after being sent out on loan to Northamptonshire for a portion of the 2019 season.
There were many fantastic performances from week 1 of the Bob Willis trophy which promises a season full of exciting performances. Associate member players are not only representing their county but also the emerging cricket world as a whole when they play on a big stage including the English First-class county system.
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