In the midst of all the glitz and glam that international cricket has to offer, people forget about the cradles in which the legends were forged. Domestic cricket is often left under the wraps as people are always trying to race to the limelight.
However, if we tend to lend an ear and an eye to domestic cricket, we would know that this alternate dimension that acts as the springboard for the future stars, plays host to a string of brilliant showdowns from various monikers across the face of the planet, who may go onto grab the limelight in the offing or may fizzle away to oblivion.
Raving about domestic cricket, there are three tournaments that have always outshined the others. Ranji Trophy from India is one of the oldest domestic tournaments in cricket, Sheffield Shield plays host to a string of illustrious cricketers who go later go on to reign supreme in the world and County cricket, one of the most notable forms of domestic cricket across the face of the planet.
County cricket’s popularity has drawn several notable players from various nooks and crannies of the world and they have shared a wonderful experience in the counties of England. However, in this story, we will take a look at five cricketers who were absolute gems of county cricket but couldn’t make the cut for the English national team.
#1 James Hildreth
One of the finest batsmen in country cricket, plying his trade for Somerset, James Hildreth sadly stayed confined to county cricket only despite being an absolute dominator in England’s domestic cricket. At the age of 31, Hildreth was scoring at an average of 55.86 and being honest, he was scoring for fun. From the 279 first-class matches, he managed to bash 17710 runs at a stunning average of 41.47. He struck 47 hundreds and 78 fifties en route to his greatness in England.
#2 Glen Chapple
The man whose international career was cut short by an injury, Glen Chapple was one of the best all-rounders to have graced the sport. One of the mainstays at Lancashire, he was impressive with both the bat and the ball. He managed to score 8725 runs at an average of 24.16 that also featured 6 centuries and 37 half-centuries. However, his bowling arm left several batsmen reeling in agony. He managed to claim 985 first-class wickets and 320 List-A wickets at an astonishing economy rate close to 4.00.
#3 Don Shepherd
Probably the best bowler in county cricket, Don Shepherd managed to claim 2218 first-class wickets. He continued with his glittering career for Glamorgan for two glittering decades. He started his career as a fast bowler but after a loss of form in the middle, he resorted to medium-pace off-cutters and that worked wonders for him. He was characterized by endless stamina and his ability to produce extraordinary wickets on flat pitches made him a force to reckon with.
#4 Darren Stevens
At the age of 43, Darren Stevens left the world in awe when he smashed a blistering double-century and backed it with an exciting fifer against Yorkshire. The man has been a dominant force for two decenniums now and his stints for Kent and Lancashire begged the question frequently that did England miss out on a gem? He managed to blast 16342 first-class runs from 319 matches and picked up 580 wickets at an excellent economy rate of 2.77.
#5 Jim Foat
One may argue that this man’s legacy is nothing compared to the others. However, if you try to venture into Jonty Rhodes’ batting legacy, it is decent but not excellent. If someone defined fielding in the 70’s cricket for in county cricket, it was Jim Foat. The man literally flew on occasions and affected run-outs that would be remembered for eons to arrive. I won’t really mention his statistics here but let me remind you that he had shades of Jim Morrison lurking behind those tough arms and the rosy alabaster cheeks.