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Bob Willis Trophy

Ben Slater: The county-hopping opener who’s started the 2020 season on fire

Ben Slater
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Nottinghamshire opener Ben Slater, at the time of writing, is the leading run-scorer in the Bob Willis Trophy. Here’s a look at his career so far:

Ben Slater: The beginning

Now 28, the left-handed opener has been around the county game for a while now but has recently enjoyed the most productive period of his career thus far. Slater made his first-class debut back in 2012, representing Leeds-Bradford MCCU in a bizarre game against Surrey that saw Rory Burns score a hundred from No. 7 and Chris Jordan open the batting in both innings.  He played one further first-class game that summer, against Yorkshire, before playing first-class cricket in Zimbabwe that winter. Slater made his County Championship debut for Derbyshire in 2013

Ben Slater: The good times

Slater’s first season in the Derbyshire first team was actually one of only two seasons that Derbyshire have played in Division One this century. Slater struggled that season, averaging less than 20 over 10 matches, but bounced back the following year as Derbyshire returned to Division Two by scoring a pair of centuries and ending the summer with an average of over 45.

Slater wasn’t given a run in the Derbyshire 50-over set-up until 2016, but since then has thrived in the format. He finished the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons with List A averages of over 50 and his overall List A average currently stands at 55.55. Though his numbers are impressive, given England’s seemingly endless supply of white-ball top-order batsmen, it seems that if he does break into the senior England set-up, it’s more likely to be in the longer format.

2020 has been his best year in first-class cricket to date, but we’ll get to that later.

Ben Slater: The tough times

After moving from Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire in 2018, Slater, like many of his new teammates, endured a tough year in first-class cricket. From his Notts debut in August 2018 to now, Notts are yet to win a match in first-class cricket – a run that now spans 25 matches and saw them finish rock bottom of Division One of the County Championship in 2019. After scoring 76 in his first innings of the season, Slater failed to pass 50 in the Championship again that year.

His strange 2020

Slater started the Bob Willis Trophy on loan at Leicestershire. In the first game of the season, he scored a career-best 172 against Lancashire but was immediately brought back to earth in his following game bagging a pair against top-of-the-table Derbyshire, his old club. Slater then returned to his parent club in time for their own clash against Lancashire, where he registered his second hundred of the season against the Red Rose. Today, Slater fell 14 runs short of what would have been his third hundred of the season, this time against Leicester; at the time of writing he is the only batsman in the country with more than one first-class hundred this summer.

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