The first month of this year’s County Championship is up – and it’s been good fun.
In Group 1, just three points separate leaders Warwickshire and fourth-placed Nottinghamshire. Unbeaten Gloucestershire are causing a stir in Group 2, having secured victories over Somerset, Surrey and Leicestershire. It’s a tale of two roses in Group 3, with both Lancashire and Yorkshire currently in position to progress to Division One.
We’ve decided to take a close look at the star performers from the four rounds that began in April – here’s Wisden County Championship team of April.
Stats in bold refer to 2021 County Championship games beginning in April.
Adam Lyth – Yorkshire
515 runs @ 73.57, 2 100s, HS: 116
Twenty-seven runs in Yorkshire’s encounter with Northamptonshire last week finally slowed Lyth down. After the first three rounds of the County Championship, the fluent left-hander had crossed fifty in five of his six innings, making him one of the leading contenders in the race to 1,000 runs before the end of May.
Ricardo Vasconcelos – Northamptonshire
485 runs @ 80.83, 2 100s, HS: 185*
The South African-born left-hander has put up two big hundreds on the board already, with a knock of 154 against Kent followed up by an unbeaten 185 against Glamorgan that will live long in the memory – the knock against the Welsh county helped Northants chase down 355 inside just 73 overs.
Jake Libby – Worcestershire
411 runs @ 102.75, 2 100s, HS: 180*
Libby has already faced more than a thousand deliveries this season and now averages 70 in first-class cricket for Worcestershire since leaving Nottinghamshire ahead of the 2020 season. His former employers were at the end of a ton last month but the standout knock so far came against Essex in the season opener, with Libby finishing unbeaten on 180 to secure a draw.
James Bracey – Gloucestershire (wk)
390 runs @ 55.71, 1 100, HS: 118
A key part of Gloucestershire’s early-season success, Bracey was the leading man in his side’s victory over Somerset: he followed up a century with a fourth-innings 83* against one of the best attacks in the country. His 390 runs in the top order have all come while taking the gloves, too.
David Bedingham – Durham
567 runs @ 113.40, 2 100s, HS: 257
The leading run-scorer in the County Championship after four rounds, Bedingham has put up 567 runs at an average of 113.40. After 237 runs in the match against Nottinghamshire in the season opener, Bedingham went up to another level against Derbyshire, becoming the first Durham player to hit more than 300 runs in a match.
Kiran Carlson – Glamorgan
442 runs @ 73.66, 2 100s, HS: 132
After averaging just under 14 with the bat in the Bob Willis Trophy, the 22-year-old has really stepped up this season, most notably against Sussex – Carlson hit a century in each innings. There have been three half-centuries, too, hinting at a new-found consistency in the the right-hander’s game.
Matt Critchley – Derbyshire
483 runs @ 60.37, 1 100, HS: 109; 15 wickets @ 32.80, 1 5WI, BBI: 5-67
A towering presence as a leg-spinner, Critchley is currently both Derbyshire’s leading run-scorer and joint-leading wicket-taker. His finest display in April came against Worcestershire at home, where he took eight wickets and fell 16 runs short of hitting two centuries in the match.
Ryan Higgins – Gloucestershire
24 wickets @ 16.75, 1 5WI, BBI: 5-62; 179 runs @ 29.83, HS: 73
Higgins is one of the most consistent all-rounders in the county game, a fact demonstrated once against last week. In a thrilling comeback win over Leicestershire, Higgins followed up his first five-for of the season with a 25-ball 33 in a successful fourth-innings chase of 348. His 24 wickets this season have been delivered at a lowly average of 16.75.
Craig Overton – Somerset
25 wickets @ 14.60, 2 5WIs, BBI: 5-25; 137 runs @ 27.40, HS: 54
Overton has continued his Bob Willis Trophy form, with 25 wickets in four matches making him the leading wicket-taker in the competition. His contributions with the bat shouldn’t go unnoticed either – his unbeaten first-innings 38 was a key hand in a tight win over Middlesex last weekend.
Ollie Robinson – Sussex
20 wickets @ 14.35, 1 5WI, BBI: 9-78
Tipped by many to play international cricket sooner rather than later, and with good reason. Robinson almost single-handedly decimated Glamorgan in a virtuoso performance, taking 13 wickets in the match and nine in one innings. Altogether he has 20 at 14.35.
Simon Harmer – Essex
21 wickets @ 26.57, 2 5WIs, BBI: 5-57
Harmer continues to underline his status as the county game’s premier spinner. Hi 21 wickets so far are more than any other tweaker and he was particularly sensational when taking 10 in the match to deliver victory over Durham after Essex has been bowled out for 96.