Nine county cricketers who came into 2021 without a season of note under their belts, and ended it as players to keep an eye on from now on.
Stats in bold refer to 2021 first-class season
Callum Parkinson – Leicestershire
50 wickets at 20.94, 3 five-fors
Twin of England leggie Matt, Leicestershire left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson has had a season to remember. Having never before taken more than 20 wickets in a season, he finished with the most scalps by an English spinner in the competition.
Tom Haines – Sussex
1176 runs at 47.04, 3 100s
The Sussex opener made his first-class debut as a 17-year-old in 2016, but it’s only now that he has come good on his prodigious talent, finishing with more County Championship runs than any other batter. Given the captaincy partway through the season, this is the first time Haines has made more than 500 runs in a first-class campaign.
Rob Yates – Warwickshire
793 runs at 37.76, 4 100s
Rob Yates came into this season with just one first-class ton to his name, and ended it having been central to Warwickshire’s County Championship triumph. Chief among his three tons was an unbeaten 120 which consigned Essex to their first first-class defeat in two years. One of two in this list, along with Haines, in Wisden’s County Championship team of the season.
Kiran Carlson – Glamorgan
928 runs at 48.84, 3 100s
Kiran Carlson claimed 5-28 in his maiden first-class outing with the ball, and a century in his third game, but it’s only in 2021, fresh out of uni and ready to commit fully to cricket, that he has truly come of age. Before this season he had never made more than one hundred or averaged more than 34 in a campaign.
Lewis Hill – Leicestershire
944 runs at 44.95, 3 100s
Few players truly have breakout seasons at the age of 30, but Lewis Hill certainly qualifies. He only had one first-class ton before this year, with that three-figure score coming all the way back in 2015. He quadrupled his tally this season, with five fifties mixed in for good measure.
Ethan Bamber – Middlesex
52 wickets at 20.55, 1 five-for
Perhaps the most contentious entry in this list, in that Ethan Bamber did at least some of his breaking out in 2018, when he claimed 28 wickets at 20.25. But it’s only this year that he confirmed himself as the true heir to Murtagh’s Middlesex throne, with 52 wickets at 20.55.
Ben Aitchison – Derbyshire
34 wickets at 23.29, 1 five-for
Before this season, Ben Aitchison, a 22-year-old Derbyshire right-armer, had just six wickets to his name in red-ball cricket. This year, he claimed 34 wickets at 23, including 6-28 to bowl out Durham for 208.
Shane Snater – Essex
31 wickets at 16.48, 2 five-fors
Another slightly contentious pick in that Shane Snater is an international cricketer, but given he had just 20 first-class wickets in his bag before this season, the Dutchman qualifies. Figures of 6-39, skittling Glamorgan for 134 to begin Essex’s stroll to the Division Two title, marked his most impactful performance.
Nathan Gilchrist – Kent
30 wickets at 20.66, 1 five-for
Nathan Gilchrist might be Zimbabwe-born, but considering his performances this season, Kent will be trying their hardest to ensure he resides no further south than Canterbury from now on. The 21-year-old had never taken a first-class wicket before this season. 30 wickets flowed this season, including a maiden five-for arrived in September against Worcestershire, with Kent going on to secure the Division Three title.