Photo Credit: Professional Cricketers’ Association
Last awards of the season round off domestic summer.
With the Bob Willis Trophy final having rounded off an exciting summer of domestic cricket, it’s time to choose your final PCA Players of the Month for this season.
One player from each side to have appeared in the Lord’s final are nominated for this month’s men’s award, with Lancashire’s Tom Bailey and Warwickshire’s Liam Norwell in contention alongside Keith Barker of Hampshire and Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach.
Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Charlotte Edwards Cup finalists Northern Diamonds have two players up for the final women’s award of the season. Hollie Armitage and Linsey Smith are nominated alongside two team captains in Lightning’s Kathryn Bryce and Western Storm’s Sophie Luff.
As ever, the shortlisted candidates have been identified by the PCA’s bespoke Most Valuable Player (MVP) Rankings, developed by the PCA in conjunction with CricViz and the players to identify the best performers in the game from a statistical standpoint.
The final decision lies in the hands of the fans, however, and you have until 1pm on Wednesday 6 October to vote for your September PCA Players of the Month.
Men’s PCA Player of the Month
The last month of the men’s domestic season saw the divisional stages of the LV= Insurance County Championship take place either side of Vitality Blast Finals Day on Saturday 18 September, before the aforementioned Bob Willis Trophy final rounded off the season at Lord’s.
Bowlers have come to the fore with four seamers nominated this month, and the winner will join Matt Critchley (April), Simon Harmer (May, August), Harry Brook (June) and Tom Hartley (July) in having been named a men’s PCA Player of the Month this year.
To help you decide how to cast your vote, here is a brief rundown of each of the contenders’ highlights this month:
Tom Bailey (Lancashire)
Tom Bailey has scored the most MVP points of any men’s domestic player this month with 136 at a healthy average of 34 points–per-game.
Bailey’s form was essential in helping Lancashire to their first Bob Willis Trophy final appearance – his career best 7-37 against Somerset in particular will be remembered for a long time as the Red Rose came within a whisker of winning the County Championship title. Bailey scored the most MVP points of any player in that fixture with 56, and he was also named MVP of the Match against Nottinghamshire after claiming match figures of 7-132 and making 52 with the bat in Lancashire’s second innings.
Keith Barker (Hampshire)
Keith Barker’s late season form helped his side Hampshire to a respectable fourth placed finish in this season’s County Championship, the seamer earning 115 MVP points in September at an average of 38 points-per-game.
The seamer was consistently among the wickets throughout the month, his individual highlight being an amazing career best spell of 7-46 against Nottinghamshire which saw Barker remove seven of the visitors’ top eight to claim the MVP of the Match with 45.7 points. A visit to his former stomping ground at Edgbaston was also fruitful for Barker as he took 5-43 before going on to make 75 with the bat to inspire an incredible turnaround victory for Hampshire after they were all out for 89 in the first innings.
Joe Leach (Worcestershire)
Like Barker, Worcestershire captain Joe Leach has regularly taken wickets throughout this month, and he has also accrued the same amount of MVP points with 115 at 38 points-per-game.
Leach took a wicket every time he bowled in September, and failed to take multiple wickets only once out of six possible occasions. He was named MVP of the Match following Worcestershire’s final fixture of the season – a thumping 10-wicket win over Leicestershire – after he claimed match figures of 6-63 at Blackfinch New Road.
Liam Norwell (Warwickshire)
Warwickshire’s Liam Norwell has been the standout bowler during what has been a highly successful season for the Bears as they achieved both County Championship and Bob Willis Trophy glory. The seam bowler scored 114 MVP points in September at an average of 28.5 points-per-game.
In total, the 29-year-old took 21 wickets this month at 15.3 runs apiece, including a miserly spell of 2-9 as Warwickshire removed Lancashire for just 78 on a dramatic first morning of the Bob Willis Trophy final. Norwell then followed that up with 3-60 in the second innings, removing key batters in George Balderson and Josh Bohannon, as Warwickshire bowled their way to an innings victory on day four at Lord’s.
Women’s PCA Player of the Month
This month in women’s domestic cricket saw the first ever Charlotte Edwards Cup finals day take place as South East Stars won the inaugural tournament, before the final stages of the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy culminated in a second consecutive Southern Vipers victory at Northampton on Saturday 25 September.
The RHF Trophy Player of the Year, Lightning skipper Kathryn Bryce, is amongst the nominees for the September women’s PCA Player of the Month, and the winner will join Bryony Smith (June) and Eve Jones (July and August) in having picked up an award during the first season to see a women’s prize has been handed out.
Here are the nominees’ best moments from September:
Hollie Armitage (Northern Diamonds)
Northern Diamonds’ Hollie Armitage has scored the most MVP points of any player this month with 78.9 at an average of 11.3 points-per-game, as her side went all the way to the final of both the CE Cup and the RHF Trophy.
The all-rounder contributed with both bat and ball throughout the month, and made an outstanding individual contribution on CE Cup finals day, scoring 84 runs on the day including 59 not out in the final before Diamonds were eventually edged out by South East Stars.
Kathryn Bryce (Lightning)
A fantastic month for Kathryn Bryce from an individual perspective already saw her pick up the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Player of the Year award at the cinch PCA Awards, and she is now up for further individual recognition after scoring 77.8 MVP points in September at an average of 25.9 points-per-game.
Bryce has been something of a run machine in the RHF Trophy, where she anchors Lightning’s top-order, the Scotland international’s clear highlight being a mammoth career best 162 made during her final outing of the 2021 season against Central Sparks in Loughborough.
Linsey Smith (Northern Diamonds)
Like Bryce, Linsey Smith gained individual recognition at the 2021 cinch PCA Awards as she was included in the first ever PCA Women’s Team of the Year. This September, the left-arm spinner has scored 76.9 MVP points at an average of 25.9 points-per-game.
Smith claimed 10 wickets at 24.5 runs each across all competitions in September, including a career best 5-34 during Diamonds’ 7-wicket win over Western Storm in the RHF Trophy. She has also chipped in with 14.8 batting MVP points, including 31 runs scored opening up against Vipers in the RHF Trophy final.
Sophie Luff (Western Storm)
Sophie Luff joined Smith in being a part of the PCA Women’s Team of the Year, and she is also up for the September women’s PCA Player of the Month after scoring 72.9 MVP points at an average of 24.3 points-per-game.
Like Bryce, Luff has excelled with the bat in the RHF Trophy, and the Western Storm skipper joined her counterpart in making a career best score during the final round of group stage fixtures in this year’s competition, posting an unbeaten 157 against Sunrisers on 18 September.