Club Cricket Conference

Sunday, 21st October 2018

Clubs enjoy reflected glory from Surrey clean sweep

By Charles Randall

8 October 2018


Club cricket in Surrey received due recognition at the Cricket Writers Club awards in London this week for producing a stream of high-quality players.

When Surrey took the Specsavers County Championship this summer, they earned rare respect from other counties and the media because most of the winning  side were home-nurtured players from local club cricket. For a change, ran the narrative, a big budget was less relevant.

Malden Wanderers CC could claim a part indirectly through the Stewart family, who worked behind the scenes at the Oval to turn round Surrey fortunes. The Stewarts deserved the Peter Smith Memorial Award for their dedication to the Surrey cause. Alec,  director of cricket, and his brother Neil, a development coach, encouraged local talent through the system and helped produce players for England after a gap of 13 years. Their father Micky Stewart , Surrey president, and both sons played for Malden Wanderers at various times, fully supported by their mum Sheila.

Surrey's new golden era has produced all-rounder Sam Curran, this week's winner of the writers' Young Player of the Year award, and opening batsman Rory Burns, the writers' County Championship Player of the Year. Both men, plus  Ollie Pope, are touring Sri Lanka this winter after helping Surrey to their well-deserved title. To complete the Surrey sweep of prizes, Natalie Sciver, of Surrey Stars, won the women's award.

The consistent left-hander Burns, 28, was recognised by England relatively late in life as a leading professional, having learnt his cricket at Beddington CC, and Curran emerged from Weybridge CC, this year's Surrey Championship winners. Pope, from Guildford CC, goes to Sri Lanka with them,and Jason Roy, from Reigate Priory CC, has established himself as a leading England one-day opener.

Surrey's link with club cricket is astonishing. Their championship side also featured Tom Curran, Sam's elder brother and Weybridge colleague, and Amar Virdi, the England Under-19 off-spinner living up to his promise at Sunbury CC. Other home-bred players included Ryan Patel (Wimbledon), Jade Dernbach (Guildford) and Rikki Clarke (Guildford). The South African fast-bowler Morne Morkel and the transferred imports Ben Foakes and Mark Stoneman were probably the most notable exceptions to the 'home-grown' trend.

The Cricket Writers Club book award went to Arlott, Swanton and The Soul of English Cricket,  by Stephen Fay and David Kynaston. Journalist and historian expertly examine styles and attitudes in writing and broadcasting over the decades.

Weybridge benefited little from all-rounder Sam Curran due to his dramatic rise to international  cricket, but they won their third Surrey Championship, adding to back-to-back successes in 2003 and 2004.

Reigate Priory seemed likely to take the crown but they lost momentum, and their five-wicket defeat by Weybridge in the penultimate match settled the issue. Priory were bowled out for 119, with Jack Winslade's 5-31 upstaging his new-ball partner Tom Curran. Weybridge's captain Tom Bruce scored 63 not out at run a ball in reply and finished his magnificently consistent season with 869 runs at an average of 72.42, including nine fifties and one century.

The major surprise of the Surrey Championship season was the relegation of injury-hit Normandy the year after taking the title for the first time. They went down with Cranleigh , to be replaced by Guildford and Esher.