The Bob Willis Trophy, the 2020 replacement for the County Championship, has seen no shortage of significant contributions from the usual titans of the English domestic game, but plenty of young players have stood out as well.
On the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, four writers picked their breakout star for the competition. Here’s who they went with:
Jordan Cox (Kent)
324 runs at 64.80, 1 100, HS: 238*
Picked by Wisden.com features editor Taha Hashim
I wouldn’t say he had a breakout season, it was more a breakout knock: 238 not out against Sussex last month. He’s not got too many runs since, but he’s 19, put on 400 and something with Jack Leaning, monster partnership. I spoke to him afterwards and he’s probably the most confident cricketer that I’ve ever spoken to.
He spoke really well, talking about how he came back to bat on 167 not out and he goes to the rest of his established colleagues like Sam Billings, Daniel Bell-Drummond, that he’s going to go past their first-class bests, and he did it, to be fair to him. He also said that now he’s looking at Zak Crawley’s 267, slightly tongue in cheek. He’s a nice batsman to watch, very still at the crease.
Matt Critchley (Derbyshire)
234 runs @ 39, HS: 63, 17 wickets @ 26.88, 1 five-for, BBI: 6-73
Picked by Wisden Cricket Monthly staff writer James Wallace
I’ve gone for my home county. I really thought they were going to win their first trophy since 1993, so I was watching a lot on the live streams and I really was taken by Matt Critchley who’s still only 24, and he’s a leg-spinner, and they say leg-spinners take a bit longer to bloom.
He’s worked with Stuart MacGill down under and Anil Kumble. He’s six foot two, so he’s quite tall for a spinner, and he’s mentioned that he took a lot from working with Anil Kumble in India because he’s a tall spinner and gets lots of bounce and those things he can offer on unresponsive pitches.
It’s just been lovely to watch a leg-spinner go about his work in the County Championship. He bowls in his shades a bit, Giles-esque, and he can also bat. He’s the youngest centurion for the county. He’s at that exciting time where he’s been around four or five years, seems to know his game, the ball was coming out of his hand really nicely.
Tom Lammonby (Somerset)
343 runs @ 49, 2 100s, HS: 107*
Picked by Wisden Cricket Monthly magazine editor Jo Harman
He’s a 20-year-old left-hander who made his first-class debut this summer, so he really is a breakout star. He would generally bat in the middle-order for the second XI, bowling a bit of left-arm seam, but was asked to open the batting in the Bob Willis Trophy, which felt a bit like a sacrificial lamb. There’s not a huge amount of openers getting runs in county cricket in general, especially at Taunton, and it’s a position Somerset have really struggled to fill in recent seasons. It felt like the equivalent of asking the young lad to go in at short leg really.
But he got 41 in his first knock, then had a run of low scores, but finished the group stage with two unbeaten hundreds and an unbeaten 43 in his last four knocks. And looking at the Somerset bowling figures, they’ve been on some pretty spicy pitches as well, so it really is a pretty impressive effort. He saw Somerset home with a century against Gloucestershire, and then carried his bat for 107 out of 193 to set up that crucial win, against Worcestershire. The youngest Somerset player to carry their bat.
I’ve seen more of him in T20 cricket where he’s an absolute gun fielder and useful left-arm seamer as well. There’s a lot to like about him. He’s known more as a shot maker as well, so it’s doubly impressive that he’s managed to grind these runs out. Somerset have found another one. There’s plenty of talent around there, and they are brilliant at bringing it through.
Dan Moriarty (Surrey)
17 wickets @ 20.11, three five-fors, BBI: 6-70
Picked by Wisden.com head of content Yas Rana
In two games, he took 17 wickets in the Bob Willis Trophy, including three five-wicket hauls, and in the Blast he’s got an economy rate of under six an over from his first five games, so a great start to his career. Bowling in tandem with Amar Virdi, he’s doing very well, and it’s great to see more spinners do well.