Yorkshire’s Keshav Maharaj, Nottinghamshire’s Ravi Ashwin, as well as Middlesex duo Dawid Malan and Toby Roland-Jones are the four nominees for the July PCA Player of the Month award.
With the seventh month of the year being evenly split between the Specsavers County Championship and the Vitality Blast, two cross-format players have been recognised, as well as two Championship specialists.
As the tenth round of this season’s Championship fixtures began on the final day of June, performances in those eight matches have counted towards the July award, since the majority of those games took place in the last month.
The MVP algorithm was purpose-built by the PCA in conjunction with the players to identify the match-winning performers in any given game. Bonus points are awarded for scoring a high proportion of your team’s runs, claiming top order wickets and taking catches in the field, amongst other important disciplines.
The MVP Rankings therefore give a more accurate reflection of the domestic game’s top performers than traditional batting or bowling averages do.
This year’s Overall MVP will follow in the footsteps of 2018 winner Joe Denly in collecting a £10,000 cash prize to recognise the best performing player in county cricket, according to statistics.
Previous Player of the Month awards this season have been won by Hampshire’s Liam Dawson in April, Essex’s Simon Harmer in May and Leicestershire opener Hassan Azad last time out in June.
To help you choose the fourth different player to collect the award this year, here is a summary of each of the contenders’ highlights this month.
It’s been a good month for overseas spinners as Keshav Maharaj appears alongside Ashwin in the Player of the Month nominees. Like Ashwin, Maharaj has only turned out for his county in the Championship this month, making his nomination all the more impressive.
The South African international took 20 wickets at 19.95 apiece across his three outings for Yorkshire, including 10 in the match to help crush high-flying Somerset. The 29-year-old also contributed with the bat in that match, making 72 in the White Rose’s only innings. That effort came just a week after he crashed 85 off just 71 balls against Essex, in an innings where no other batsman made more than 18.
Every bit of Ravi Ashwin’s world-class quality has been on display this month. Appearing in three four-day fixtures, the 32-year-old has accrued the most MVP points of any player this month, despite not playing in a single Blast game over the past few weeks.
That’s thanks largely to his incredible performance against Surrey in the fixture beginning Saturday 13 June. Ashwin claimed match figures of 12-144 whilst making 31% of his side’s runs at a strike rate of 60 with the bat. His total of 81.53 MVP points for that game is the highest of any player in a domestic fixture in 2019. Amazingly, that was Ashwin’s second man-of-the-match performance that week: his first had already come against Somerset six days earlier.
Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan has taken the Blast by storm this year, inspiring his side to three wins from four. He ended the month in second position in the PCA’s Blast MVP Rankings, only trailing Durham’s D’Arcy Short.
A standout knock saw Malan make 117 in his side’s impressive London derby victory over Surrey – an innings which he has backed up with 45 not out and 43 against Glamorgan and Essex respectively. Prior to those performances, the 31-year-old had already proved his cross-format ability by posting 199 and 166 against Derbyshire and Glamorgan in the Championship.
Toby Roland-Jones has made a remarkable return from injury to join his captain amongst this month’s nominees. The tall seamer has claimed the PCA MVP award in three of his seven outings in July.
The first of those came against Gloucestershire in the Championship, after Roland-Jones claimed 10 wickets in the match for the fourth time in his career. He has since become the most prolific bowler in the 2019 Blast to date with 11 wickets to his name. His 5-21 against Glamorgan on 26 July was particularly memorable as it included a hat-trick to end the Welsh side’s innings.