Simon Harmer (Essex):
The off-spinner, who toured India in 2015, has been the most prolific bowler for Essex in the last three campaigns. In the just-concluded season, he topped the bowling charts with 83 wickets at 18.28, guiding his county to its second championship triumph in three editions. In the last edition he picked 57 wickets at 24 (the fifth-highest wicket-taker) and scored 460 runs at an average of 27. In the last three years, he has grabbed 214 wickets in 41 games.
Kyle Abbott (Hampshire)
The strapping fast bowler, the only bowler to pick a five-for during South Africa’s tour to India in 2015, has been exceptional for Hampshire, snaring 71 wickets in 21 innings at an average of 15.73 this season and 51 at 23.17 in the last campaign. He has been useful with the bat too, scoring 1,083 runs at 30 down the order in the last three seasons.
Duanne Olivier (Derbyshire):
It has been a steady season for Olivier who struck a Kolpak deal at the start of last season. The medium-pacer struggled in the initial matches, before salvaging his reputation with a flurry of wickets towards the backend of the championship, finishing with 47 wickets at 31.02.
Morne Morkel (Surrey):
The beanpole pacer, after quitting international cricket at 33, forged a deal with Surrey. He has been as effective as he had been for South Africa, wheedling out 107 wickets at 22 in the last two seasons. He was the second-highest wicket-taker in the previous edition, which Surrey went on to win.
Rilee Rossouw (Hampshire):
Once considered the most promising batsman from his country, he never got an opportunity in Tests and couldn’t turn eye-balls in 36 ODIs, despite his eye-catching stroke-play. His county stint has been an extension of his international career as he has averaged in the mid-30s over three seasons.
Dane Vilas (Lancashire):
Touted the heir apparent to Mark Boucher, he was shunned after six Tests, wherein he did nothing to live up to the labelling. But with Lancashire, he quickly established himself as one of their batting pillars. This year, he plundered 1036 runs at 80 in 17 outings, after he had hoarded 879 in the previous edition. He managed a double hundred every season and has attained cult status in Lancashire.