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Sunday, 22 September, 2002, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Batsmen of the season
BBC Sport Online nominates the best four batsmen of the 2002 Championship season.

Michael Di Venuto, Derbyshire

Derbyshire's push for promotion ran out of steam towards the end of the season, but their failed bid had nothing to do with DiVenuto.
Michael DiVenuto
DiVenuto was a rock at the top of the order

The Aussie was a run machine, scoring 1,538 of them at an average of 61 to be the leading scorer in Division Two.

He scored four centuries - as many as his team-mates combined - and seven fifties in yet another successful season county season.

His 230 against Northamptonshire in early summer proved to be a seasonal highlight, while an unbeaten 175 against Gloucestershire later in the year staved off defeat.

If Di Venuto maintains his form in 2003, promotion for Derbyshire may not be out of the question.


Jim Troughton, Warwickshire

At the start of the season, big things were expected of a young Warwickshire batsman by the name of Ian Bell.
Jim Troughton
Troughton came of age in 2002

But as England hopeful Bell endured a wretched year, it was another youngster who filled the breach and caught the eye.

Twenty-three-year-old Troughton's coming of age in 2002 gave Warwickshire's top-order an added dimension.

1,052 runs at an average of 55 speaks for itself, but it's a record that shines brighter when it comes from a man who played just once the previous year.

His season took a little while to get into gear, but when it did - with his maiden first-class ton against Hampshire in June - the runs flowed.

Troughton supplemented that century with another against Leicestershire two weeks later, and he managed another before season's end.

He was rewarded with a place at the ECB Academy for his efforts.


Ian Ward, Surrey

Among the nine Surrey batsmen to make at least one century in their Championship-winning season, opener Ward stood out from the rest.
Ian Ward
Ward had a wonderful year for the champions

Ward finished the season as the Championship's leading run-scorer with 1708 at 65, but he took a little time to find his feet.

Four innings passed before he reached triple figures, but once he did - against Lancashire in the third round of matches - the floodgates opened.

Six more centuries would follow - and seven fifties - as Surrey established themselves as the stand-out side in the competition.

Ward's season hit its defining point when he struck an unbeaten 168 to steer Surrey to a two-wicket win over Kent - one week after the would-be champions lost their first game of the season, to Warwickshire.

Runs kept coming for Ward - though not an England recall - and he capped a superb season by hitting a ton against Leicestershire in the final game of the season.


Nick Knight, Warwickshire

Thanks to performers like Knight, Warwickshire can rightly be proud of finishing second after winning promotion from Division Two 12 months prior.
Nivk Knight
Knight scored two double hundreds

Knight, recalled to the England one-day squad mid-summer, played in just 10 matches but clubbed 1520 runs at an average of 95. He hit five tons and five half-centuries.

The 32-year-old reached new heights against Hampshire in May, hitting a career-best 255 not out before following that up with an unbeaten 245 against Sussex.

He was largely responsible for Warwickshire still holding a chance of toppling eventual champions Surrey towards the end of the season.

Suitably, his epic 133 with an injured hip earned a draw against Surrey, making Adam Hollioake's side wait one more match before uncorking the champagne.

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