Overseas players leave behind local heroes in average honours

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The Independent Online

Australians ran off with the batting honours. Shane Watson and Mike Hussey, both members of the Australia one-day international squad but ignored for the Ashes series, finished first and second in the averages.

In the bowling averages the Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan conceded a miserly 15 runs for each of the 36 wickets he took for Lancashire. Right behind him was his late replacement at Old Trafford, Murali Kartik, with 16 wickets in two matches.

Spinners were predominant in the bowling averages. The Hampshire off-spinner Shaun Udal's place in the England party to tour Pakistan this winter is easily justified by fourth place in the listings, with 44 wickets at 18.9. His Hampshire team-mate, the Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne, returned 22.5 per wicket but claimed the most wickets, 87, ahead of the Sussex leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed. The Pakistani amassed 80 wickets at 26.73 to be 38th in the averages.

Monty Panesar, of Northamptonshire, came late to the season because he wanted to concentrate on completing his degree at Loughborough University. When he turned up early in July he opened with a career-best 7 for 181 in 56 overs in the first innings of his first match. The former England Under-19 left-arm spinner went on to pass 50 wickets in eight matches to be 10th in the averages.

The Durham seamer Mark Davies was the best of the non-twirlers, in third, his 49 wickets costing 16.53 each. The next "straight" bowler was Sussex's other Pakistani, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, with 54 at 19.92.

At the other end of the rankings Somerset's Ian Blackwell's slow left-arm stuff earned him an average of 56.03 - his batting average was 52.33. But the big-hitting Blackwell could not outgun those Australians with the bat. Watson played just five Championship matches for Hampshire but he scored more than 500 runs, while Hussey, the Durham captain, reached 1,000 runs in a season in just 10 Second Division games.

Just behind them came Chris Rogers - three games for Leicestershire - and Nottinghamshire's David Hussey, the younger brother of Mike, was sixth best, having, like Mike, passed 1,000 runs. Both brothers scored double hundreds.

The top England-qualified batsman was the Test reject Mark Ramprakash, of Surrey, with 1,568 at an average of 74.66. But the highest scorer was Owais Shah, who has not even made it into the Academy squad. The Middlesex man amassed 1,728 (66.46), with team-mate and England-qualified Irishman Ed Joyce next on 1,668 (61.77).

The top wicketkeeper-batsman was Chris Read, of Nottinghamshire, with 62 catches and two stumpings to go with an average of 44.47. England's Geraint Jones found himself in 13th place with 23.57, 41 and 2.