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Bowlers dominate county rankings

02 May, 2007

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LONDON: Matthew Hoggard is languishing at 16th, while Harmison leads Steve Harmison`s strong start to the county season has been reflected by his top position in the new Professional Cricketers Association rankings.

The PCA has devised a complex system to rate all county cricketers, and appears to reward bowlers more than batsmen. Bowlers fill the top 11 spots, with the first batsman, Richard Montgomerie of Sussex, appearing in 12th position.

PCA director Jason Ratcliffe told BBC Sport: "There are valid reasons. You need 20 wickets to win a match."

Somerset skipper Justin Langer is 15th despite hitting 315 in a Championship match against Middlesex. But he scored less points than he might have done because his team did not win the match, because he failed to score 40% of his team`s runs, and it was played in Division Two.

Harmison took eight wickets in a Division One win over Worcestershire and seven of the 11 wickets taken by his team in their loss to Yorkshire.

Five wickets is the same as getting half a team out; what does a bowler have to do to match that? He has also contributed with the bat, and gained more points for an economical spell in a one-day victory over Leicestershire.

The rankings, which will identify the Most Valuable Player (MVP) across all domestic competitions, is a cumulative points system that rewards every run scored, wicket taken and catch held.

Unlike any other statistical tool, it also gives credit for captaincy and to winning teams. Harmison is followed in the list by two Pakistani leg-spinners, Danish Kaneria and Mushtaq Ahmed, with Peter Trego and Adil Rashid making up the top five.

The system, which will provide a contrast to traditional averages, also awards bonuses to batsmen who score at a fast rate and bowlers who take top-order wickets rather than tail-enders.

Ratcliffe said: "We need to see how the season pans out but we ran the system on last year`s statistics and the top-rated batsman was Darren Lehmann, who finished seventh.

"How valuable are bowlers? People have often argued that a hundred is the equivalent of five wickets but people who play the game don`t always say that`s the case.

"Five wickets is the same as getting half a team out; what does a batsman have to do to match that? "People will argue about the list but we hope it proves popular for cricket fans."

End.

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