Once again it was a week to be a bowler in county cricket as 11 five-wicket hauls were notched up by 10 different bowlers across the 10 matches, while just seven batsmen posted three figure scores.
Among the batsmen who did prosper were Nick Compton – whose 133 in a losing cause against Warwickshire was the week’s highest score – Michael Lumb (131 against Durham); and Michael Powell (128 not in Kent’s win over Northamptonshire).
However, it has to be a bowler who takes this Cricket World County Player of the Week award, and, thanks to the huge number of contenders it is a tough decision. David Balcombe’s haul of eight for 71 in Hampshire’s loss to Gloucestershire represented the best figures at The Rose Bowl since its opening in 2001, while Steve Magoffin kicked off his stint as Sussex’s overseas player in fine fashion with a match-winning second innings haul of seven for 34 at Liverpool.
It is Derbyshire all-rounder Jonathan Clare, though, who takes the plaudits as his match haul of 11 for 57 was the best of the week and he also chipped in with innings of 21 and 43 during his side’s low-scoring win over Glamorgan. The 25 year-old took five for 17 in Glamorgan’s humbling for 95 first time around and bettered that in their second innings with six for 40 to help bowl them out for just 102.
Born in Burnley, Clare had spells with both Lancashire and Surrey second XI before finding a permanent place at Derbyshire, and made his first-class debut for them at the end of 2007 taking five for 90 against Nottinghamshire. This late-season form was enough to earn him a contract for the 2008 season, which he ended with 31 wickets at an average of 28.09 as well as a place on an ECB strength and conditioning programme that winter. After returning to Derby in 2009, he found first-team opportunities limited for a while, until, in 2011, he bounced back with his best season yet, racking up 688 runs at an average of 32.76 and taking 43 wickets at 27.09.
Possessing a somewhat agricultural technique with the bat and bowling at brisk medium-pace, he would appear ideal for limited overs cricket. However, it is the longest form of the game in which he has really prospered, turning himself into almost a genuine all-rounder, on his way to a career batting average of a shade under 28 and a bowling one a shade over that figure. If he can keep plugging away and help Derbyshire turn their impressive start into promotion then an England Lions call-up may not be too far away.
© Cricket World 2012