top of page

Bob Willis Trophy: Players to Watch

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

"Lords" by Herry Lawford is licensed under CC BY 2.0

2020 marks the year of a new trophy within English Cricket, but not the one we were expecting. Back in 2018, the ECB announced their plans for The Hundred - which would have kicked off at the Oval on Friday 17th July to much fanfare and under the watchful gaze of many purists, intrigued at how this new competition would impact the game. The jury will be out on that until, eventually, in 2021 when the first ball is bowled.

Instead, 2020 will be the first year since 1945 that the County Championship will not be contested. In its place we have the Bob Willis Trophy, a great tribute to a great man. As can be expected from this one-off event, the set-up is slightly different. All 18 counties, 3 localised groups, the two winners with the most points play a five day final. Easy.

With overseas players restricted from entering the country - many of whom have had contracts cancelled or delayed until 2021 - opportunities for younger squad players will be far more abundant than usual. With that in mind, let’s see what the new county season has in store for us.

South Group:

Kent, Sussex, Middlesex, Surrey, Hampshire, Essex


Last Year - 4th in Division 1

Captain - Sam Billings

Home Ground - Canterbury

Player to watch: Darren Stevens - at 44, Stevens is the oldest player in the competition, in these uncertain times the one thing you can rely on is Darren Stevens taking wickets.


Last Year - 6th in Division 2

Captain - Ben Brown

Home Ground - Hove

Player to watch: George Garton - With David Wiese stuck in South Africa and Chris Jordan out injured, this could be the perfect opportunity for Garton to get gametime, after a series of injury setbacks, to show some of the promise and pace which saw him called up the the England squad in 2017/18.


Last Year - 8th in Division 2

Captain - Stevie Eskanazi

Home Ground - Radlett (BW Trophy only)

Player to watch: Max Holden - A former England U19 captain, Holden has promised big things and Middlesex Director of Cricket Angus Fraser has earmarked him as a one to watch. With more success in limited overs cricket, Holden will want to show his mettle in the longer format.


Last Year - 6th in Division 1

Captain - Rory Burns (unlikely to play)

Home Ground - The Oval

Player to watch: Amar Virdi - Virdi was rewarded for consistent form for Surrey with an inclusion in the 30-man training squad before the West Indies tour. Skipping out the green tops of May and into the dry wickets of August could really aid his off-spin.


Last Year - 3rd in Division 1

Captain - James Vince

Home Ground - Arundel (Southampton is being used for England games)

Player to watch: Mason Crane - With England duty, lack of overseas players and injury, Hampshire will look to turn to a lot of inexperience this year. Liam Dawson is with England so Mason Crane will really look to this summer to build on his potential that saw him win his solitary Test cap.


Last Year - Winners of Division 1

Captain - Tom Westley

Home Ground - Chelmsford

Player to watch: Jamie Porter - The 27 year-old is getting to what should be the peak of his career and has won the County Championship twice. Despite being called up to England squads before he has never quite converted that into an appearance. Many will be vying for Broad and Anderson’s places but Porter is a strong candidate.

Central Group

Glamorgan, Worcestershire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire


Last Year - 4th in Division 2

Captain - Chris Cooke

Home Ground - Sophia Gardens

Player to watch: Billy Root - Another side battling injuries and limited overseas players - with Marnus Labuschagne unable to return - Root will be relied upon to churn out those runs himself as one of the more senior batsmen.


Last Year - 9th in Division 2

Captain - Joe Leach

Home Ground - New Road, Worcester

Player to watch: Ed Barnard - A few names to choose from here but Barnard is a strong candidate, a vital all-rounder holding with an enviable average with both bat and ball and an excellent fielder.


Last Year - Runner up in Division 1

Captain - Tom Abell

Home Ground - Taunton

Player to watch: Jack Brooks - Now a veteran of first-class cricket, this man was wearing a headband before it was cool, he’s been ready for this season since debut.


Last Year - 8th in Division 1

Captain - Will Rhodes

Home Ground - Edgbaston

Player to watch: Ian Bell - Sounds like I’ve not put much thought into this one. I haven’t. Still available for England, still scoring runs, still has a sweet cover drive.


Last Year - 2nd in Division 2

Captain - Adam Rossington

Home Ground - Northampton

Player to watch: Ben Curran - The the third brother. Ben is currently plying his trade in the midlands and making his own name as a batsman. Still young at 24, who’s to say all three could one day appear for England.


Last Year - 3rd Division 2

Captain - Chris Dent

Home Ground - Bristol

Player to watch: James Bracey - Bracey was a real surprise package in the intra-squad warm up game before the West Indies series. A wicketkeeper by trade, Bracey scored against the best bowling in the country and held his own, prompting calls for him to play in the series itself. Those calls fell on deaf ears but let’s hope for more of the same this season.

North Group

Derbyshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Durham, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire


Last Year - 7th in Division 2

Captain - Billy Godleman

Home Ground - Derby

Player to watch: Fynn Hudson-Prentice - Hudson-Prentice has seen his career rejuvenated by a move to Derbyshire and will be looking to make further waves in first class cricket this summer as an important all-rounder.


Last Year - Winners of Division 2

Captain - Dane Vilas

Home Grounds - Old Trafford and Liverpool

Player to watch: Liam Livingstone - A tremendous limited overs player, Livingstone also has much to add to the longer format of the game averaging 41. Test squad call ups have come as reward but never the full cap, he’s up against some strong bowling line ups, but class will tell.


Last Year - 5th in Division 1

Captain - Steven Patterson

Home Grounds - Headingley

Player to watch: Harry Brook - Another former England U19 captain and he will, like many others listed in this article, be looking to turn promise into form. Aged just 21 and with two First-Class hundreds to his name, Brook has bags of potential.


Last Year - 5th in Division 2

Captain - Ned Eckersley

Home Grounds - Chester-Le-Street

Player to watch: Sean Dickson - Rated highly at Kent and many were surprised that his former county were happy to let him go. Kent’s loss is Durham’s gain.


Last Year - 8th in Division 1

Captain - Steven Mullaney

Home Grounds - Trent Bridge

Player to watch: Haseeb Hameed - An easy choice as everyone in England is behind this young man, given the time and support, hopefully Hameed can start again at Notts and return to the form that he promised so early in his career.


Last Year - 10th Division 2

Captain - Colin Ackermann

Home Grounds - Leicester

Player to watch: Callum Parkinson - Always difficult to be the less successful brother but with a different action and ability with the bat, let’s hope Callum can start to show the sort of success that Matt has achieved at Lancashire.

bottom of page