One of the most enjoyable elements of the LV= Insurance County Championship is a new player announcing themselves at the top tier of domestic cricket.
It is a breeding ground of talent throughout the summer and offers a chance for emerging players to not only hone their growing skills but also mix with some of the biggest names of the international arena. The competition is an opportunity for players to catch the eyes of England selectors who may come knocking in the not-too-distant future, as well as earn their side silverware or promotion.
This year, young players were at the forefront of the narrative with the likes of Harry Brook and Matt Potts earning call-ups to play in England’s LV= Insurance Test Series’ after stellar starts to the competition. Up and down the country amid differing fortunes for their counties, names who weren’t necessarily familiar outside of the die-hard county followers at the beginning of the year drove their way to the forefront of the domestic cricket scene.
In a year which marked the return to a two-division LV= Insurance County Championship and an unforgettable summer of English cricket, here are five names who had breakthrough red-ball seasons.
After being let go by Notts last season, Compton joined Kent and made a big impact in the first half of the season. In a stellar start, Compton made hundreds in each of his first three LV= Insurance County Championship innings of the season, including two in the same match against Lancashire. His efforts were rewarded with a call-up to face New Zealand in a warm-up match before the Black Caps began their LV= Insurance Test Series against England.
He carried on in much the same vein, scoring a century while facing down the likes of Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson. A late developer at 28, Compton’s breakout year is a testament to perseverance and hard work in pursuing his first-class career.
Although his mammoth scores tailed off as the LV= Insurance County Championship continued into the summer, Compton’s early season plundering was enough to make him the second-highest run scorer in Division One at the end of the summer.
In a tough year for Sussex, Ali Orr gave fans at the County Ground a reason for some optimism. The youngster racked up over 1,000 runs across the summer, including three hundreds in his first full first-class season for the county.
His crowning glory of the summer was a blistering 198 off 174 balls in the final round of fixtures. With Sussex following on, Orr smashed ten sixes in his innings and shared a 328-run stand with opening partner Tom Haines before he was run out at the non-striker's end when in sight of a double.
Combining a solid technique with power and flare, Orr also hit a one-day double-hundred against Somerset this season, the highest individual List A score ever by a Sussex player.
A busy middle-order batter, Cox first made a name for himself in 2020 when he scored a stunning double-hundred in the Bob Willis Trophy.
He had a quiet season last summer but announced himself properly across all formats this year, scoring over 900 LV= Insurance County Championship runs for Kent including two hundreds.
More known for his white-ball performances and having earned a call-up for England’s recent T20I tour of Pakistan, Cox is also making a name for himself in the longer format of the game. In a high-pedigree batting line-up at Kent, Cox held his own superbly this summer, averaging well over 40.
Matt Potts, the latest pace bowler off the Durham production line, ended the summer as a quick whose Test calibre was established, playing in five of England’s seven LV= Insurance Test Matches and taking 20 wickets.
At the start of the season, he was a relative unknown, but he battered down the door in the early weeks to earn a call-up. Potts was a key strike force for Durham through a challenging season, taking 58 wickets at 17.87, leaving him second in the Division Two wicket-taking charts.
After a steady season in 2021, Potts established himself as the leader of Durham's attack this year.
Gloucestershire might have suffered the fate of relegation from Division One of the LV= Insurance County Championship, but in Tom Price, a right-arm seamer, they have discovered a bowler to make them hope that their stay in the second tier will be a short one.
With 32 wickets in eight appearances at an average a smidge over 20, Price’s standout performance came in Gloucestershire’s penultimate game. Winless up to that point, it appeared as if the streak would continue when Warwickshire secured a narrow lead. But Price stepped up, taking a staggering 8-27 to skittle the Bears for 128, before seeing his side over the line seven down.