THE SUCCESS of Neil Carter in becoming the Most Valuable Player of 2010 is an extraordinary turn-up at the age of 35 three years after his Warwickshire career seemed to have nose-dived.
The MVP award, sponsored by FTI Consulting, is based on a league table of points gained from performances in all three county competitions through the season, and Carter's 80 wickets and 1,270 runs took him well clear of the field, with Yorkshire all-rounder Adil Rashid finishing second.
Carter is an awkward left-arm seamer and a clunky left-hander who can launch an innings with a biff in one-day cricket. That might have applied more in past years, as this season he scored 617 runs as a lower order bat in the LV Championship, averaging a very respectable 36.29, to add to his 51 wickets.
Yet back in 2004 the powerful Carter was unsure whether he would be offered another contract. His form returned and he rated 2005 as his best season, but within two years he seemed certain to leave Edgbaston until he was belatedly offered another year. Chief executive Colin Povey commented in August 2007: "The club are unlikely to offer Neil another contract and would not stand in the way of an approach from any other counties at this stage. Everyone wishes Neil all the best." But Warwickshire changed their minds with the departure of Mark Greatbatch as coach. By then Carter certainly felt he still had some good cricket in him and he proved that with a very productive 2008, culminating with a loan to Middlesex for the Stanford series in Antigua that October.
Move the clock on to 2010, and the player who so often seemed 'about to leave' Warwickshire was voted the Professional Cricketers Association player of the year and finished top of the MVP table, twice winning the monthly award. Born in Cape Town and raised in South Africa, he was naturalised too late to consider international cricket. Rashid finished well behind Carter in the MVP stakes, though he topped the LV Championship rankings. Alfonso Thomas, of Somerset, was the leading wicket taker with 109 across all competitions for third place overall.
Speaking on his achievement Carter said: "I won the first FTI MVP monthly award in April and felt that was a great achievement, but I never imagined that I would stay top for the rest of the season. It's a real honour to come out on top. It's a massive incentive for the players, as I think they all realise that it is a true reflection of your performances throughout the season."
The monthly awards in 2010 went to Carter (April and July), Ryan ten Doeschate (May), Chaminda Vaas (June), Marcus Trescothick (August) and Moeen Ali (September).