How Surrey won the title: five factors behind County Championship canter

first_imgReuse this content Since you’re here… Share on Facebook Star menRory Burns and Morne Morkel have been two of the three best players in either division – Kent’s Matt Henry with 67 wickets in Division Two being the other.The captain and left-hander Burns, England’s new Test opener-elect, has scored nearly 300 runs more than anyone else. His tally of 1,241 from 12 matches, with four hundreds, has come at an average of 68.94. The former South Africa pace bowler Morkel has taken 50 wickets in eight games. Only five bowlers in Division One have reached the 50-wicket mark, and his average of 13.96 blows his rivals out of the water since making his debut in late May following a side injury.Contributions from othersThe veteran all-rounder Rikki Clarke, a homegrown hero and a Championship winner in his debut season in 2002, has been one of a host of notable performers, with 43 wickets and 443 runs, while the England trio of Sam Curran, Ben Foakes and Ollie Pope have enhanced their reputations, as has the fledgling offie Amar Virdi.Pope has been the best of them with 802 runs, including a stupendous unbeaten 158 in the first innings of a three-day win over Yorkshire at the Oval in early May, under the watchful gaze of Joe Root, who was captaining the opposition that week. Cricket Twitter Ollie Pope hits out during his stunning innings against Yorkshire Photograph: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images Share on WhatsApp Surrey Surrey clinch County Championship title with tense win at Worcester … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Pinterest Read more The Spin: sign up and get our weekly cricket email. Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Facebook County Championship Division One Support The Guardian features Read more A ruthless road to gloryChampion sides always gain momentum, a popular buzzword within dressing rooms far and wide, and run with it. Surrey did not make a racing start, winning their first match against Hampshire and drawing their next two against Lancashire and Worcestershire. But since then they have won nine on the bounce and counting, including an extraordinary five of those by an innings.If Surrey win their last two matches, against Somerset at Taunton next week and Essex at the Oval, they will have won 12 times, a season’s record in county cricket since the Championship was split into two divisions in 2000 – also a Surrey title-winning year. Share via Email The team behind the teamWhile Surrey’s on-field recruitment has been smart, assembling a backroom staff oozing knowledge and experience has been a key contributor to their success.Led by Alec Stewart and Michael Di Venuto, the director of cricket and head coach respectively, they have cherry-picked experienced heads such as Vikram Solanki, Chris Taylor, Ryan Sidebottom and Geoff Arnold as coaches and mentors to underpin the squad’s development.Sidebottom, for example, was brought in as a bowling consultant for Championship cricket alone – the former England left-arm swing bowler won five Championship titles as a player for Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire between 2001 and 2015. England to reward Jos Buttler and Sam Curran with central contracts Fortress OvalThe Oval has not always been the happiest of hunting grounds for Surrey, a batsman-friendly venue not conducive to forcing victories. In the summers of 2016 and 2017 combined they won four times there – twice in each – whereas this summer they have won four times at HQ, added to once at Guildford’s Woodbridge Road.Those Oval victories came against Hampshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire. The Lancashire win last month, under lights and with the pink ball, was the closest they have come to defeat this season. Defending a target of 271, they won by six runs thanks to a Morkel six-for. Share on Messenger Topicslast_img

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