Rory Burns leads Surrey to first County Championship in 16 years

Surrey's Rory Burns celebrates victory over Worcestershire which clinched the County Championship. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire
Surrey's Rory Burns celebrates victory over Worcestershire which clinched the County Championship. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire
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Surrey sealed a first County Championship title for 16 years with a tense three-wicket win over Worcestershire at Blackfinch New Road.

Openers Rory Burns, pictured, and Mark Stoneman laid the foundations with a century stand but the bottom county made the visitors fight all the way before victory was clinched 20 minutes before tea.

Seven home-grown products were part of the side which clinched a ninth successive Championship victory for the visitors, while another – Sam Curran – was voted England’s man of the series in the Test triumph over India.

The last time Surrey put together such a sequence of victories in first class cricket was in 1999, when on the way to the first of three titles in four years under Adam Hollioake.

The Championship pennant has eluded Surrey since 2002 when one of the current side – Rikki Clarke – was part of the squad.

But the depth of locally produced talent – plus key overseas signings like Morne Morkel – suggest they could now go on and enjoy a similar run of success as achieved under Hollioake.

Alec Stewart took over as Surrey’s director of cricket in 2013 and has overseen an impressive transformation.

“Things were struggling. I can’t hide behind that,” Stewart admitted. “But things don’t happen overnight and that’s where the chief executive (Richard Gould) and chairman (Richard Thompson) were very good.

“I said ‘if I’m going to come back, let me try and do it my way and if it doesn’t work kick me out – but if it does work then you can pat me on the back, even though it will be the players who have done it’.

“I said ‘give us a couple of years to get things to where they potentially could be to then move forward’ and that’s what has happened.

“You’ve got to have a Surrey nucleus to the squad. It’s almost a unique club in that you’ve got to understand the club to work there I think.

“I’m biased because I know it inside out from a young age but it is a different club to other clubs, I feel and if you understand it, you’ve got more chance of knowing how it should work potentially.

“But then it’s about appointing good people. Graham Thorpe, excellent person, Michael Di Venuto has been outstanding and then people like Vikram Solanki making the transition from player into coach.”

Stewart was also full of praise for the players, adding: “They have grown together. It’s nice to have players picked for England and Rory Burns will be the next one, I’m 100 per cent certain of that.

Burns has had a memorable first year as club captain with four hundreds and six half-centuries and looks good for a place in England’s squad for the forthcoming tour of Sri Lanka.