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Mon 7th Jan 2019

By Paul Reynolds

Premier League review 2018 - Merrion lift Premier League title for Podes

Premier League stats

Leading all time run scorer (2011-2018) - Eddie Richardson (North County) - 3156 runs @ 40.46
Most runs in a Premier League season - 851 - Daniel Solway (Pembroke) (2016)
Highest score - Eddie Richardson (North County ) - 194* - North County 1 vs YMCA 1 - Inch - 22 Apr 2017
Leading all time wicket taker (2011-2018) - Eddie Richardson (North County) - 194 wkts @ 16.40
Most wickets in a Premier League season - Eddie Richardson (North County) - 37 wkts (2015)
Best bowling - Jack Tector - 8-40 - YMCA 1 vs Clomtarf 1 - Castle Avenue - 18 Aug 2012
Highest team score - 353-4 - Merrion 1 vs Railway Union 1 - Anglesea Road - 5 Jul 2015
Lowest team score - 52 all out - Pembroke 1 1 vs Leinster 1 - Observatory Lane - 28 Apr 2018

Most Matches in Premier League (2011-2018) - Eddie Richardson (North County ) - 99 (2011-2018)

Cricket Leinster's new website will be launching in the spring, but until then all player stats for the last eight seasons can be found at https://www2.cricketstatz.com/ss/web.aspx?mode=104&club=4530&team=.

Team of the Year (listed in the order, five batsmen/one wicketkeeper/five bowlers) 

Batsmen: John Anderson (Merrion) (Prem, 2011, 2013, 2014; Div 2, 2017), Abraham Jacobus Pienaar (Clontarf), Dominick Joyce (Merrion) (Div 2, 2017), Andy Balbirnie (Pembroke) (Prem, 2013, 2017), Simranjit Singh (YMCA) (Prem, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)

Wicketkeeper: Patrick Tice (Merrion)

Bowlers: Albert van der Merwe (The Hills) (Prem, 2016), Malcom Nofal (North County), Niranjan Shankar (Merrion) (Div 3, 2018; Div 8, 2017), Poonish Mehta (Merrion), Jack Balbirnie (Pembroke)


Review

Runs per wicket for all teams - 23.18 Runs per over for all teams - 4.74

Merrion 1 - Champions - (Pos in league - 1 (2017 - 9)) - Batting Rating 164 - Bowling Rating 116 - RpO for 5.00 - RpO against 4.48 - Youth %age (by appearances) 16.9%

Merrion 1 became the third team in the past four seasons to win the top division after being promoted from the second tier, a brilliant display that saw then win their 6th "Senior" League title (and first since 2001) and their 13th league title overall (two Senior 2, three Division 2/Section B, two Short League). The three matches they lost (to YMCA, North County and Clontarf) were all close matches, and their league record was never really worse than 6-3 in July, after which they won their last five league matches to win the Premier League by over 50 points. It would be churlish to criticise - presumably they would have liked to have won more trophies, and after analysing their performances, they could probably do with another strike bowler and middle order batsman. With former Ireland player Max Sorensen moving to the club in 2019, they have sorted that out already. An impressive five members of the team make our Team of the Year, with a further four making strong contributions - with five of those nine being Merrion born and bred. At this highest level, it can be hard to compare modern performances with the past, even though we have the stats. In terms of Senior runs in a season, John Anderson's 2018 haul of 763 comes 10th on the all time list, with Brad Spanner's total of 1201 in 2000 way out ahead. But in more recent times, Anderson's total is unbeaten, and no one has scored more top division runs in a season for Merrion in the last eight seasons. Anderson's total was 669 runs at an average of 83.63, also taking 10 wickets at 18.20. There have been 15 occasions of a player scoring over 500 runs and taking 10 wickets in a Premier League season since 2011 by Eddie Richardson (three times), Simmi Singh (twice), Anderson (twice), and John Mooney, Pat Collins, Tim Affleck, David Rhoda, Stephanus Grobler, Charles Wakim, Gareth Delany and Malcolm Nofal. It is Anderson's 5th TotY and first in the top tier since 2014. Dom Joyce had his best season for many a year, scoring 656 runs at 59.64 including a hundred against The Hills. Surprisingly, this was the first time he has made the Premier League Team of the Year. Patrick Tice was by far and away the wicket keeper with most dismissals in the league, with 29 catches and five stumpings, smashing any previous record we have on file. Tice's Hopkins Cup winning performance of 37 Senior dismissals in the seasons hasn't been bettered since Merrion's Kade Beasley took 40 in 2004. Overseas player Poonish Mehta had an excellent season with 245 runs at 30.63 and 24 wickets at 14.79 - for Merrion, only Matt Petrie (28 in 2011) has taken more in a top tier season since 2011. Merrion's final player on the Premier League Team of the Year takes some explaining. Our recent review of Division 3 included many mentions of this player - although as a batsmen and wicketkeeper. Playing for Adamstown in 2017, Niranjan Shankar took 12 wickets at 11.83 in Division 8 - good stats but not some that would indicate one of the better bowlers in the province. For Merrion, he didn't bowl in the first four matches he played, and didn't bowl for the 2nd team after May 20, settling into his role for the team's keeper. But for the 1st team, he just kept taking wickets, including 6-30 at home to Leinster, which is the best bowling return in the top division for Merrion in Anglesea Road in the last eight seasons. Shankar ended the season with 12 wickets at 14.50, and before it is dismissed as a fluke, read the following. In the last four seasons, only seven bowlers have taken 12 or more wickets in a season at a better average (in the highest division)- Eddie Richardson, Malcolm Nofal, Joe Carroll, Jono Cook, Albert van der Merwe, Alex Cusack and Ryan Hopkins. Shankar belongs in this exalted company. Four other players get worthy mentions - Jack Carty's excellent all round 386 runs at 38.6 along with 11 wickets at 29.18, Tyrone Kane's 201 runs at 33.5, 18 year old Max Neville with 10 wickets at 16.3 and Tom Stanton with 23 wickets at 20. The title completed an emotional season for Merrion, who dedicated the win to Damian Poder, the Merrion legend who gave so much to cricket in Leinster and died in the winter of 2017/2018

Clontarf 1 - Runners up - (Pos in league - 2 (2017 - 2)) - Batting Rating 130 - Bowling Rating 111 - RpO for 4.44 - RpO against 5.20 - Youth %age (by appearances) 0.7%

The second best batting line up, the second best bowling attack, and second in the league for Clontarf. They won the Cup and Alan Murray, but were slightly off the pace in league to end up with successive runners-up spots. Losing two of their first three matches put them on the back foot, before eight wins in the next nine, brought them back into contention. A win over YMCA in a T20 refix (followed by a victory over Merrion in the last match) was needed, but a two win loss ended hopes for another year. That Obus Pienaar made the Team of the Year is perhaps not surprising, the highly rated overseas player scoring 457 runs at 76.17 and 18 wickets at 17.67. Bill Coghlan was the leading run scorer with 522 runs at 43.5, the second time in the last three years that he has gone past 500 league runs, a feat only matched by North County's Eddie Richardson. Declan Gallagher improved massively on his 2017 debut season with 300 runs at 25, but no one else got past 200 runs for the season, perhaps an indication of where the reasons for the runners up spot lie. The bowling was completely the opposite - lots of really good performances, but perhaps lacking another 25 wickets in the season bowler. Sameer Dutt continued his excellent second coming, taking 24 wickets at 17.88. He didn't play top level cricket between 2012 and 2015, but a decision to give one last throw of the dice was obviously the correct choice. After Pienaar came Conor Kelly with 18 wickets at 19.78, followed by David Delany (17 at 19.53), and Shariful Islam (17 at 22.18).

North County 1 - 3rd - (Pos in league - 3 (2017 - 5)) - Batting Rating 102 - Bowling Rating 100 - RpO for 5.83 - RpO against 4.46 - Youth %age (by appearances) 3.2%

North County 1's third top three finish in the last four years. The capacity for North County players to step up the plate when needed continues to amaze. Every year they are written off by many, and every year the prove the doubters wrong. It wouldn't be unfair to say that from 2017 to 2018, the performances of Eddie Richardson, Andrew Sheridan and Cian Mulvaney all decreased - these things happen. But that just meant others had to improve, and Jonathan Andrews and Adam Coughlan stepped up, along with one of the best overseas players to have played in Leinster in recent years - Malcolm Nofal. North County have been blessed with allrounders in the last decade, with the "best" in the province coming from North County in six of the last eight seasons (Josh Reeves (2011), Eddie Richardson (2013, 2016, 2017), Tim Affleck (2014), Malcolm Nofal (2018) - the other two years being Joel Leacock (Leinster, 2012) and David Rhoda (Merrion, 2015)). Nofal dominated this season, and was brilliant to watch - as long as you weren't on the receiving end. He scored 664 runs at 47.43 and took 29 wickets at 14.28 (in the league) to be a deserving member of our Team of the Year. Second in the bowling was Adam Coughlan with 22 wickets 21.32 - whereby lies another interesting tale. The leading wicket taker list in the top division since 2011 is headed by Eddie Richardson by a long way (194 wickets at 16.40). The next five in the list are all off spinners of the highest order. Simmi Singh (YMCA) with 138 at 17.57, Paul Lawson (Pembroke) with 137 at 22.99, Albert van der Merwe (The Hills/YMCA) with 132 at 22.71, Yaqoob Ali (The Hills/YMCA) with 117 at 21.37.....and Adam Coughlan (North County) 115 at 24.03. All are the wrong side of 30 - except Coughlan and Lawson who are 26. Eddie Richardson had an awesome season if he was anyone else, but an average one if you are Eddie Richardson - 354 runs at 32.18 and 16 wickets at 18.81. If you are ever sitting in a bar arguing who has been the best cricketer of the last decade in Leinster, just look at the stats of the top of this article. Jonathan Andrews had his best ever Premier League return with 317 runs at 28.82, Jamie Grassi passed 200 Premier League runs for the third year in a row (334 runs at 25.69) and skipper Niall McGovern led from the front with 334 at 23.86.

Pembroke 1 - 4th - (Pos in league - 4 (2017 - 5)) - Batting Rating 90 - Bowling Rating 109 - RpO for 4.21 - RpO against 4.76 - Youth %age (by appearances) 26.8%

The fourth year in the last six seasons that Pembroke have come 4th, and as with Balbriggan in Division 2, how that feels can only be answered by those in Pembroke. Perhaps there is frustration at the failure to breakthrough, perhaps there is satisfaction that 4th place was achieved by 21 players, all but one of whom are Pembroke through and through (with a very few who started their careers with other Leinster clubs). The season got off to an awful start with maulings by Leinster and Merrion, and after their fourth loss of the season in early June, title hopes had disappeared. Against that, relegation worries had also disappeared after mid July, and Pembroke were left to contemplate another mid table finish. Two players made our Team of the Year, and the fact that they are brothers may not give much help in a squad packed with siblings. One brother is named on their third Premier League Team of the Year, with the other named on their first. Jack Balbirnie is the latter with 23 wickets at 15.57, the fourth year on the trot that he has taken ten or more Premier League wickets, but the first where he has gone past 16. Andrew Balbirnie is not surprisingly the former, hitting 258 runs at 51.60 in the seven matches he played. If there is one shortfall of the team, it was the lack of batsmen putting in big seasons - they were the 6th best batting line up in the division, and no one scored more than Theo Lawson's 287 runs at 22.08. Lorcan Tucker was impressive with 285 runs at 47.50 and Jack Balbirnie added to his wickets with 229 runs at 20.82 (the only other players to have completed the 200/20 double in the top division were Stephen Moreton in 2011 and Jono Cook in 2014 and 2015). Three more spinners make up the remainder of the Pembroke bowling - Paul Lawson (15 at 21.6), Fiachra Tucker (15 at 25.13) and JJ Garth (12 at 24.08). With only one of their central 14 man squad older than 29, the team can only get better. International and interprovincial call ups (Andrew Balbirnie, Lorcan Tucker, Kim Garth, Josh Little, Gavin Hoey, JJ Garth?) could though harm them. .

YMCA 1 - 5th - (Pos in league - 5 (2017 - 4)) - Batting Rating 96 - Bowling Rating 89 - RpO for 4.72 - RpO against 4.86 - Youth %age (by appearances) 17.5%

YMCA 1 finished up with a pretty much identical league record to Pembroke, and may also suffer in 2019 due to international and interprovincial call ups. There the similarities end though. YM started the season well, beating North County, Merrion, Phoenix and Pembroke to give themselves every chance of a shot at the title. They however lost four of the next five, and like Pembroke, were left to contemplate a middle of the table existence for the last six weeks of the season. As we have seen with Peter Chase in Malahide and Andrew Balbirnie in Pembroke, the days of Ireland players playing full seasons with their clubs have now gone, and YMCA struggled somewhat without their lynchpin, Simmi Singh. He was still decent with 339 runs at 48.43 and 12 wickets at 19.58 (making his fifth Premier League Team of the Year in six seasons), but his totals were the smallest they have been since 2012 - purely down to not playing more than seven matches. The leading wicket taker was Jarred Barnes, forcing his way back into interprovincial cricket with an impressive 25 wickets at 16.48, and he dominated a bowling attack which we ranked as the second worst in the league. Padraic Flanagan took 17 at 20.41, Harry Tector 10 at 37.2 and Asher Abbasi 10 at 28.2, but Barnes excepted, wickets were hard to come by all season. Harry Tector was the leading run scorer with 382 at 31.83, with captain Jack Tector scoring 372 at 33.82, including a masterful 136* at home to North County in May, the highest score by a YMCA opener in the Premier League in Claremont Road, beating his own record of 116 against Railway Union in 2015 (apologies for the fairly niche stat). Oliver Gunning was the final player to perform, scoring 302 at 21.57.

The Hills 1 - 6th (Pos in league - 6 (2017 - 3)) - Batting Rating 94 - Bowling Rating 107 - RpO for 5.06 - RpO against 3.93 - Youth %age (by appearances) 8.4%

The muscles may be getting sorer, but Albert van der Merwe continues to improve like a fine bottle of South African Syrah. The Lightning coach won the O'Grady Cup for best bowling average in the league, and possibly gave his best all round performance of his career with 337 runs at 30.64 and 25 wickets at 14.20. 2015 saw more runs at a higher average, but with him only taking 15 wickets - 2016 saw him taking 29 league wickets, but only scoring 316 runs at 31.6. That gave him his second Team of the Year, after making the Premier League side in 2016. With perhaps a batsman hitting 600 runs at 50, and another bowler taking 20 wickets, The Hills may have had a chance, but with no real support of van der Merwe, the team struggled, winning twice in the last three matches to avoid the relegation play off. Overseas player Daya Singh injected some youth into the team, scoring 284 runs at 28.4 and taking 14 wickets at 22, but the rest of the bowling attack looked tired at times - Max Sorensen with 13 wickets at 29.15, Naseer Shoukat with 10 at 29.6 and Luke Clinton the best of those three with 12 at 22.5. We are being relative here - The Hills bowling attack was still the fourth best in the division, but where we are looking as to where a side may improve in order to win trophies, we have to be harsh. The batting looked stronger on paper, but after the mid season departure of Sean Terry (278 runs at 39.71) the side were bowled out for under 200 three times, winning two and losing five. Nicolaas Pretorius scored 378 at 31.5, Max Sorensen 280 at 21.54 and Mark Donegan 238 at 17. It looks like there will be lots of new faces in Milverton in 2019, so perhaps 2018 was the end of an era.

Leinster 1 - 7th (Pos in league - 7 (2017 - 1)) - Batting Rating 83 - Bowling Rating 91 - RpO for 4.40 - RpO against 5.25 - Youth %age (by appearances) 12.3%

The existence of Leinster 1 has long characterised that of a yo-yo with very few instances of a boring mid-table finish. It is either league tables or relegations. 2018 was more or less the latter, although a play-off victory coupled with re-structuring of the league for 2019 turned it into something of the former. There wasn't a whole lot to take from the season really - the only games won were against Pembroke, YMCA and Phoenix, and perhaps only a couple of players could really put up their hand and say they had a good season. Joe Carroll was on the good side of solid once more, scoring 319 runs at 26.58 and 26 wickets at 21.04. Thirty players have scored 2000 or more Senior Runs since 2011, and Carroll lies at 17th on the list by average with 2525 at 33.33 - 26 players have taken 100 or more Senior Wickets, and Carroll lies squarely at the top of that list with 180 wickets at 16.62. There wouldn't be many who argue he wasn't amongst the ten best all rounders in Leinster in the last ten years. Monil Patel had a handy debut season with 418 at 32.15, and Leinster's two marquee players didn't quite deliver - George Dockrell with 245 at 30.63 and Gareth Delany with 234 at 19.50. Delany actually had his best ever season in the Premier League with the ball - 14 wickets at 19.5, with Bilal Azhar (17 at 24.88), Saqib Bahadur (13 at 28) and Andrew Clough (11 at 23.45) all contributing. So why the difference between Leinster's title winning 2017 side and struggling in 2018? Looking at Leinster in 2017 and Merrion in 2018, a title winning side needs at least two players scoring over 400 runs at an average of over 40, and another one scoring more than 300 at an average of over 30. And with the ball, a side needs at least two bowlers with more than 20 wickets at less than 20, and another three taking at least 10 wickets at an average under 30. And in 2018, Leinster were missing another 20+ wicket taking bowler and two batsmen scoring over 400 runs at over 40. Easy when you say it like that.

Phoenix 1 - 8th (Pos in league - 8 (2017 - 6)) - Batting Rating 76 - Bowling Rating 79 - RpO for 4.34 - RpO against 5.17 - Youth %age (by appearances) 12.3%

A tough second half of the season saw Phoenix collapse from a distinctly promising 3-2 (after wins against Leinster, Pembroke and The Hills) to 3-11, losing their last nine matches. Although it would be nice to come up with some overall theory as to the two halves, on the pitch Phoenix were perhaps a little lucky to have won three of their first five matches. Lucky is harsh, but that great start to the season was more or less entirely down to the efforts of two players - Reinhardt Strydom who took 10 wickets at 12.7 and Brad Kneebone who scored 194 at 64.67. From that point on, Kneebone scored another 157 at 17.44, and Strydom took another 7 wickets at 39.71. Despite all that, the reorganisation of the top level leagues in 2019 has given Phoenix a lifeline, although there will need to be some serious reorganisation if they are to challenge in 2018 - time is needed more than anything else. Two allrounders got to our benchmarks with bat and ball - Fletcher Coutts with 482 runs at 34.43 and 14 wickets at 29.86 and Reinhardt Strydom with 262 runs at 20.15 and 17 wickets at 23.82. Strydom has since announced his retirement from all Irish cricket, and leaves behind a brilliant record that compares with many of the greats. A full look at Strydom's career will be published over the coming weeks. The batting is completed by Kneebone finishing with 351 at 29.25, and Rory Anders hitting 205 at 18.64. The only other bowler to get to 10 wickets was, Ben White took 12 at 39.75.

The full Premier League batting averages can be found here, whilst the bowling averages are here

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