Napier claims sixes crown
Essex’s Graham Napier has rounded off a fantastic season by winning the Sky Sports Sixes League with 36 maximums from 327 deliveries in domestic one-day competitions.
It is the second highest haul of sixes in the history of the league since Ian Blackwell hit a record 45 in 2005.
Napier’s big-hitting helped Essex win the Friends Provident Trophy, claim the NatWest Pro40 Division Two title as well as reaching Twenty20 Cup finals day.
He finished nine sixes ahead of team mate Ravi Bopara who came second with 27 maximums from 748 deliveries. Kent’s Azhar Mahmood and Somerset’s Marcus Trescothick both cleared the ropes 25 times, finishing third and fourth respectively due to the number of balls faced.
Napier wins £2,000 and will be presented with the Sky Sports Sixes League trophy at next week’s Professional Cricketers Association Awards dinner.
Napier’s assault on the league began in June with a blistering 25 sixes during the month, including a record-breaking 16 in his unbeaten 152 against Sussex in the Twenty20 Cup.
He said: “I’ve always kept a close eye on the Sky Sports Sixes League and it’s been something I’ve wanted to win.
“Since the Twenty20 Cup this year I’ve been given my chance to stake a claim from the top of the order.
“I had a good spell during that competition – most notably the innings against Sussex – and that gave me the momentum to win the Sixes League.”
The Sky Sports Sixes League, sponsored by the Daily Express, ranks the top ten batsmen that have hit the most sixes in Friends Provident Trophy, Twenty20 Cup and NatWest Pro40 matches. This summer there were 1,415 sixes in limited overs county cricket, up from 1,254 last year.
Last year Graeme Hick won with 28 sixes from 850 deliveries. Past winners include Mark Ealham in 2004 with 20 from 359 balls, Ian Blackwell in 2005 who hit a record 45 sixes off 669 balls and Somerset’s Cameron White who in 2006 smashed 32 off 744.