Cricket Ireland have revealed the four short-listed candidates for the O' Neills Club Player of the Year Award.
It features current internationals Nigel Jones and John Anderson, former international Naseer Shaukat, and Ireland A all-rounder Johnny Thompson.
Nigel Jones enjoyed a prolific season with the bat for his club Civil Service North scoring 497 runs an excellent average of 55.22 in 12 innings. Jones played an integral part helping his side cement their place as one of the leading clubs in the region, which saw them reach the final of the Ulster Cup.
Veteran Naseer Shaukat played a pivotal role as The Hills claimed their first Bob Kerr Irish Senior Cup win. Shaukat claimed 24 wickets at a miserly 13.46 in his 14 games, and it was his performances throughout the competition that were instrumental as The Hills claimed the premier trophy in Irish cricket.
Merrion all-rounder John Anderson had a magnificent season making 585 runs at 48.75 and also claiming 20 wickets at 15.60 with his leg spin. Anderson was to the fore as he helped his side retain their Senior One status as well as reaching the final of the Irish Senior Cup.
Brigade's Johnny Thompson was another who showed his all-round ability as he claimed 40 wickets at 14.25, and in addition scored 639 runs at 45.64. Thompson's heroics played a major role as Brigade won the Ulster Cup.
Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth said of the nominees: "This was perhaps the most keenly contested of all the categories showing the strength and depth of club cricket in Ireland. There were a number of very strong candidates and the four chosen have all enjoyed outstanding seasons for their clubs. The winner will be chosen by the National selectors and they have an unenviable task."
The Coach of the Year is equally as competitive with three exceptional candidates being short-listed.
Former Irish international Ted Williamson has been chosen for his superb work with the Cork Harlequins club. His side won the Munster League for the first time in 2012 and contained no fewer than ten Under 19 players in the squad, the majority having graduated through the youth ranks under the expert tutelage of Williamson. He ovesees all coaching at the club from juniors through to seniors and is a tireless dedicated worker spreading the cricketing gospel throughout the region. He also coached the Ireland Under 17 side which won the ICC Europe Regional Challenge Series.
John Wills is a legendary figure in Irish coaching circles having been involved now for over 40 years. He was the driving force behind The Hills first triumph in the Irish Senior Cup, with his work with the bowling unit being particularly evident. John is a former coach of both the Men and Women's teams, and is always willing to help out, as evidenced by his work with the ladies this year. His knowledge of the game but more importantly his skill in imparting it to his charges make him stand out among his peers.
Kamal Merchant of YMCA has overseen the development of the youth structure at the club, and it is his hard work and professionalism which has seen cricket flourish. YMCA have now one of the most productive youth systems in Irish cricket and it is in no small part due to his tireless dedication. 2012 saw YM's youngsters win an amazing nine trophies, and in addition he was coach of the YM 3rd XI which won their respective LCU league for the third successive year. Kamal's love and passion for cricket are clearly evident and this is reflected in the teams under his expert guidance.
Richard Holdsworth said of the nominees; "Yet again there has been an incredible response to this category, showing just how fortunate we are in Ireland to have such a high number of quality coaches. We all know just how important coaches are to the improvement and development of the game, and the nominees show that our future generation of aspiring stars are in excellent hands."