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the story of our season

Another year for the history books.

 
 

When the 2018 season started on a mild Friday in April at the Kia Oval, as Surrey hosted Hampshire, even the high levels of optimism that always accompany the start of a season would not have foreseen the performances that followed to earn Surrey a 20th County Championship Title. 

 

A season that broke records, as Surrey won the County Championship for the 20th time.

 
 

WDDWWWWWWWWWDL

In just 14 characters, that is the story of Surrey’s 2018 County Championship season. ten wins, nine of them consecutive, three draws and just one loss.

But the team’s performance over the summer deserves much more than just 14 characters.

There were many questions at the start of the summer. A Surrey without Kumar Sangakkara who scored 1,491 runs in the 2017 County Championship, a newly appointed Captain in the modest Rory Burns, and a squad that included a lot of youth.

Any doubters will now regret such pessimism.

The season started at home to Hampshire on a surprisingly mild Friday in April. As thousands of Members filled the Pavilion, with their new 2018 Membership cards firmly in hand, they were unaware that it would be two 20-year-olds who would entertain them the most over the following four days.

Ollie Pope fell just five runs short of 150, and Amar Virdi introduced his twirling bowling, and joyous celebrations, to the Kia Oval crowd as he took four wickets to wrap up Hampshire’s second innings.

Win number one of 10, confirmed.

A trip north then followed, and Amar Virdi took his celebrations with him. Claiming four wickets in Lancashire’s first innings, Virdi picked up the prize scalps of Chanderpaul, Croft, Clark and Bailey who took Lancashire to 439/9 before a declaration.

Surrey managed just 235 in reply, despite a gutsy 79 from Scott Borthwick, and when forced to follow on, Foakes and Pope led a resilience with the bat to earn Surrey a draw.

Back to the Kia Oval for match three. Rory Burns led from the front as captain and batsman. 193 runs earned in his eight hours at the crease, 27-year-old Burns guided Surrey to a total of 434. Despite a six-fer from Amar Virdi - already with 14 wickets in the competition - Surrey were unable to restrict Worcestershire, and Joe Leach’s side amassed 526. Borthwick (82*), continuing his good start the season, batted Surrey to draw.

And then began a run of nine wins that gave Surrey fans nostalgic memories of dominant sides wearing the Three Feathers.

Hosting a Yorkshire side at the Kia Oval that included Pujara, Root and Bairstow, the fourth game of the season was highly anticipated considering Surrey were without International players Tom Curran and Jason Roy.

 

9

CONSECUTIVE WINS

6,515

RUNS

 

249

WICKETS

254

POINTS

 
 
 

The story continues…

 
 

Dean Elgar (61), Rikki Clarke (71) and Ollie Pope were the pick of the batsman in Surrey’s first innings. The latter hit his highest ever first-class score, scoring 158* to guide his side to 414.

Dernbach, who enjoyed a consistently good season with the red ball, took two wickets in Yorkshire’s reply - as did veteran Rikki Clarke. The pair combined to take the important wicket of Bairstow for 95 (caught Clarke, bowled Dernbach).

Sam Curran was the bane of the Yorkshire batsman as he took six wickets in their first innings, and then when they were made to follow on, took a further four to complete match figures of 10/101. The first of many victories by an innings for Surrey this summer…

After a solid start to the Championship, it was time for a break from red-ball cricket to make way for the One-Day Cup.

Unlike the prior three seasons, Surrey were unable to progress to the final of the 50-over competition. But, this did not distract from their imperious form in the Championship.

Morne Morkel, having signed on a two-year deal with Surrey in May, made his first-class debut for the Rey away at the Ageas Bowl. The 6ft 5in pace man was part of a relentless bowling attack that ripped through the home side. Rikki Clarke again demonstrated his class by taking a five-fer in Hampshire’s second innings. Rory Burns (151) and Ben Foakes (90) had set up Surrey’s total of 368, and Surrey won by an innings and 58 runs.

Surrey had not won at Guildford since 2002, and so the annual visit to the out-ground, this time to play a strong Somerset side, cast doubt in many a Surrey fan’s mind. But, one of the most memorable matches in recent history followed.

A fantastic 83 from Scott Borthwick was followed by another century from 20-year-old Ollie Pope, who scored 117 from 134 balls. Surrey set Somerset a run chase of 459. The match will not be remembered for the four-wicket hauls from each of the experienced Morkel, Clarke and Dernbach. Instead, it will be remembered for 3.5 overs from youngster Ryan Patel, in which he took six wickets for just five runs.

Another innings victory for Surrey.

 

Captain Rory Burns’ runs in the previous four County Championship seasons.

 
 
 

The final chapter…

 
 
  Morne Morkel and Rikki Clarke leave the field of play at New Road, Worcester having scored the winning runs to confirm Surrey’s 20th County Championship Title.

Morne Morkel and Rikki Clarke leave the field of play at New Road, Worcester having scored the winning runs to confirm Surrey’s 20th County Championship Title.

Another out-ground lay ahead for Surrey, and they travelled to Scarborough to take on Yorkshire. Yet again leading from the front, Rory Burns scored a half century in both innings. It was Dernbach who was the man to have the best of the home side in their first innings, as he claimed four wickets, whilst Morne Morkel picked up another five-fer in a Surrey shirt to give Surrey a 7 wicket victory.

Attention then turned to the shortest format of the game, and Surrey entertained thousands of fans at the home of the Kia Oval - the home of T20 cricket.

Amidst the Vitality Blast, Surrey travelled to Trent Bridge for a Division One Championship fixture at the back-end of July.

Another wicked spell of seam bowling from the four-pronged attack led to Dernbach, Clarke, Sam Curran and Morkel taking all 10 wickets and reducing the hosts to 210 all out.

In response, another Rory Burns century (153) as well as 111 not out from Clarke took Surrey to an almost insurmountable 592. With so many runs to play with, Surrey could attack with the ball and figures of 5/60 from Morkel stood out as Surrey won by an innings and 183 runs.

Lancashire gave Surrey a nail-biter at the Kia Oval in mid-August. 6 runs was the difference in the match, and it will be remembered for an incredible catch by Will Jacks at short-leg, and six wickets from Morne Morkel as the away side’s tail end hinted at giving them a much needed win for their survival.

With that win, Surrey were 32 points clear at the top of the table.

As Surrey welcomed Nottinghamshire to the Kia Oval, Tom Curran was also welcomed back to the side for his first first-class game of the summer.

And what a return the eldest Curran brother made. A five-fer with the ball, and 43 runs with the bat, Tom Curran forced Nottinghamshire to follow on. Mark Stoneman had given Surrey a strong lead, batting the longest innings of his career scoring 144 off 260. It was 20-year-old McKerr who took 4 in Nottinghamshire’s second innings to ensure Surrey won by an innings and 125 runs.

The first of two games against Essex in just four rounds of Championship cricket, Surrey travelled to the title holders to start the final month of the season.

90 from Burns, and 75 from Elgar got Surrey off to a good start with the bat before the experienced Clarke earned his second half century of the season (56). A 10-wicket victory occurred, thanks to a formidable pace bowling attack of Morkel, Tom Curran, McKerr and Clarke, with the latter taking 8 wickets in the match.

As second-placed Somerset lost within two days to Hampshire, Surrey knew that they needed just 8 points to guarantee the title but they were facing Worcestershire, the only side they were yet to beat in Division One, who needed a win to help them avoid relegation.

Worcestershire chose to bat, Tom Curran took four and Morkel took three as they totalled 336. A Burns century and Pope 48 helped Surrey to 268. Worcestershire wanted a win to nudge them closer to safety, but Morkel stopped them getting an untouchable lead as he took five wickets for 24 runs in their second innings.

Surrey needed 271 to win, and despite losing quick wickets in the middle order, the experience of Morkel and Clarke at the crease was enough to see Surrey over the line and confirm the Championship Title.

After a weekend of celebrations, a trip to the West Country and second placed Somerset followed. There was no hangover as Surrey piled on 485 in the first innings as Dean Elgar scored his first Three Feathers century. The hosts were skittled out for 146 and had their backs to the wall at 168/3 in the second innings before the fourth day was abandoned without a ball bowled due to an unfit pitch.

The opportunity of a tenth consecutive win had been taken out of their hands but there was still an unbeaten record to defend and a trophy to lift as Essex came to the Kia Oval in the final week.

An interesting first innings for Surrey saw the batsman uncharacteristically succumb to the Essex attack, and the Champions managed just 67. The 2017 Champions then 477/8, thinking a lead of 410 was enough to declare on. How wrong they were. Surrey amassed a huge 541, with Jason Roy hitting his eighth first-class century and Ollie Pope becoming the youngest Surrey player to score five first-class centuries. The work was now left to the bowlers, with Essex requiring 132 for victory. But, it went right down to the wire as Morne Morkel, Jade Dernbach and Amar Virdi went about their business and took nine wickets before Ryan ten Doeschate got Essex over the line.

 

What a season. Records were broken, and history made. But this is just the start of #CreatingNewHistory.

 
 

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